DTAA overrides Income Tax Act even if it is inconsistent with the Act
Relevant Text of the Order as follows :
5. We have heard the rival submissions. At the time of hearing it was not disputed that the issue raised by the revenue in its appeals are already decided by a Special Bench of ITAT, Hyderabad. The issue regarding the applicability of provisions of section 206AA of the Act, in cases of tax to be deducted at source, when the income is exigible to tax under DTAA and the payees are unable to provide valid Permanent Account Numbers, came up for consideration before the Special Bench, ITAT Hyderabad in the case of Nagarjuna Fertilizers & Chemicals Ltd. Vs. AC IT (2017) 78 taxmann.com 264 (Hyderabad-Tribunal) (SB). The question before the special bench was whether the provisions of section 206AA had overriding effect for all other provisions of the Act, whether the assessee has to deduct tax at source at the rates prescribed in section 206AA in case the payees are unable to furnish their PANs, even in cases where tax liability arises out of the treaty. The DTAA provides for a rate of 10% whereas as per the provisions of Sec.206AA of the Act, the rate of tax deduction at source is 20%.
6. The plea of the revenue was that section 206AA starts with a non- obstante clause and therefore it overrides all other provisions of the Act including 90(2), 115A and 139A. The plea of the Assessee was that DTAA was supreme and in this regard reliance was placed on the Hon’ble Supreme Court decision in the case of Azadi Bachao Andolan (2003) 263 ITR 706 (SC), whereby it was held that DTAA, even if inconsistent, will prevail over the Act. Reliance was also placed on the decisions of the Hon’ble Andhra Pradesh High Court in the case of Sanofi Pasteur (2013) 354 ITR 316 (AP) wherein it was observed that DTAA being a sovereign matter, the machinery provisions cannot override or control that. Reliance was also placed on the decision of the Hon’ble Karnataka High Court in the case of Kaushallaya Bai and others (2012) 346 ITR 156 (Kar) wherein it has held that the provisions of section 206AA are to be read down.
7. The Special Bench held that DTAA overrides the Act, even if it is inconsistent with the Act. DTAAs are entered into between two nations in good faith and are supposed to be interpreted in good faith. Otherwise it would amount to the breach of Article 253 of the constitution.
8. The Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the case of Danisco India Private Limited Vs. Union Of India & Ors. (Delhi High Court) in W.P.(C) 5908/2015 Judgement/Order dated 05/02/2018 held that where reciprocating states mutually agree upon acceptable principles for tax treatment, the provision in Section 206AA (as it existed) has to be read down to mean that where the deductee i.e., the overseas resident business concern conducts its operation from a territory, whose Government has entered into a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with India, the rate of taxation would be as dictated by the provisions of the treaty.
9. In view of the aforesaid decisions on the issue, we are of the view that there is no merit in the appeals of the Revenue.
10. In the result, the appeal by the revenue is dismissed.
Pronounced in the open court on this 26th day of June, 2020.