Vodafone Judgement: Guide To Law Laid Down By The Supreme Court
In Vodafone International Holdings B.V. vs. UOI the Supreme Court has laid down several important and far-reaching principles of law on tax planning vs. tax avoidance, interpretation of s. 9, applicability of s. 163, TDS obligations u/s 195, etc. Our expert editorial team has carefully analyzed the entire judgement and identified all the core principles therein.
Core Principles of Law laid down by the Supreme Court in Vodafone International Holdings B.V. vs. UOI
(A) Tax planning vs. Tax Evasion:
(1) The cardinal principle is that if a document or transaction is genuine, the court cannot go behind it to some supposed underlying substance. A document or a transaction cannot be looked at isolated from the context to which it properly belonged. It is the task of the Court to ascertain the legal nature of the transaction and while doing so it has to look at the entire transaction as a whole and not to adopt a dissecting approach. This is the “Look At” principle. The Revenue cannot start with the question as to whether the transaction was a tax deferment/saving device but that the Revenue should apply the “look at” test to ascertain its true legal nature. Genuine strategic planning had not been abandoned and it cannot be said that all tax planning is illegal/ illegitimate/ impermissible. Tax planning may be legitimate provided it is within the framework of law. However, a colourable device cannot be a part of tax planning. There is no conflict between McDowell 154 ITR 148 (SC) and Azadi Bachao Andolan 263 ITR 706 (SC).