Vodafone: I-T dept may not go for review of judgement

New Delhi: The Income Tax department may not go in for filing a review petition on the Supreme Court`s judgement on the Vodafone taxation case. Top sources in the department said that a ten-member "core committee", which has been specially constituted, will go into the details of the order.

But the department may take a view not to file a review petition against the order which was delivered by a three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia Friday, the sources said.

"We will have to study the whole judgement and then decide on the course of action that needs to be taken," CBDT Chairman M C Joshi told PTI.

"We take the judgement of the Supreme Court in our stride and there is no chance of the I-T department going in for a review petition in the case," a top official involved in the case said.

I-T sources said they had prepared a "ready reckoner" compendium of the timeline of the case, since 2007, and had submitted almost eight spiral-bound volumes so that the Supreme Court bench could go through all the points of the case in fine details.

"The bench has given the order after going through all of these documents. The core committee will go through the order of the apex court and suggest lessons to be drawn from the judgement," the official said.

In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court on Friday had set aside the Bombay High Court ruling asking Vodafone International Holdings to pay Rs 11,000 crore in income tax on acquisition of interests in Hutchinson-Essar Limited in 2007 overseas. .

It asked the Income Tax department to return Rs 2,500 crore deposited by Vodafone International Holdings within two months along with 4 per cent interest.

Experts too felt that it was unlikely that the government would file a review petition as the three-judge bench was headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and extensive hearings had already taken place on the matter.

"There is no error in the judgement, so there is no question of going in for a review," Dinesh Kanabar, deputy CEO and Chairman Tax at KPMG said.

"Technically the government can go in for a review but I do not think this is a fit case for that because extensive hearings have already taken place," Rahul Garg, Executive Director, PricewaterhouseCoopers said.

"It is unlikely that the government would go in for a review," Aseem Chawla, Partner Tax Practices at Amarchand Mangaldas said. Moreover, they said that under the proposed Direct Tax Code, there is a provision to tax transactions of this nature.

However, if any amendments are made, they would not have any retrospective effect.

"The only plausible option before the government is to make legislative amendments. Such amendments would be substantive in nature and therefore cannot have any retrospective effect," Chawla said.

Chapter XI of the draft DTC Bill, which is under consideration of a Parliamentary Standing Committee, provides for general anti-avoidance rules.

"According to the (DTC) provision, if there is an overseas transfer of shares with an underlying value in India of more than 50 per cent, it is liable to be taxed," Kanabar said.