Pingle Industries Ltd., Secunderabad Vs.
Commissioner of Income Tax, Hyderabad  INSC 89 (26 April 1960)
CITATION: 1960 AIR 997 1960 SCR (3) 669
CITATOR INFO :
R 1963 SC 683 (7,21,26,30) R 1965 SC 360 (9)
D 1966 SC 798 (10,12) RF 1968 SC 678 (2,4) R 1969 SC 893 (9) R 1971 SC1454 (9)
RF 1973 SC 637 (7)
Income Tax-Business Expenditure-Right to
extract stones from quarries-Character of expenditure-Test, whether revenue or
capital in nature-Hyderabad Income Tax Act (Hyderabad VIII Of 1357 F),S.
12(2)(xv)-Indian Income Tax Act, S. 10(2)(XV).
Under a quolnama the assessee company was
granted exclusive rights in the nature of a monopoly to extract Shahabad Flag
Stones without limit to quantity or measurement from quarries situated in six
villages for a period of 12 years on annual payment of Rs. 28,000 but not to
manufacture cement. The stones had to be extracted methodically and skillfully
before they could be dressed and sold. The assessee company paid an initial sum
of Rs. 96,000 as security and the balance of Rs. 20,000 was payable each year
in monthly installments of Rs. 1,666-10-8 each. The payments were to be made
even if no stones were extracted or could not be extracted. The question was
whether the amounts paid were allowable as business expenditure under s.
12(2)(xv) of the Hyderabad Income Tax Act:
Held (Per Kapur and Hidayatullah, jj. S. K.
Das, J., dissenting), that under the quolnama the assessee acquired by his long
term lease a right to win stones and the lease conveyed to him a part of land.
The stones in situ were not his stock-in trade in a business sense but a
capital asset from which after extraction he converted the stones into his
stock-in-trade. The payment though periodic in fact was neither rent nor
royalty but a lump sum payment in installments for acquiring a capital asset of
enduring benefit to his trade. The right acquired is to a source from which the
raw material was to be extracted. The expenditure was outgoings on capital
account and was not allowable as deductions under S. 12(2)(XV) Of the Hyderabad
Income Tax Act.
Per S. K. Das, J.-That on its true
construction the transaction was the sale of raw materials coupled with a
licence to the assessee to come on the land and remove the materials sold, the
purchase price being paid partly in a lump sum and partly in monthly installments,
that the object was the procuring of the stones for making flag stones and not
the acquisition of an enduring asset or advantage, that the payments made were
the price of raw materials and that the assessee was therefore entitled to
claim them as business expenditure under s. 12(2)(xv) of the Hyderabad Income
Assam Bengal Cement Works Ltd. v.
Commissioner of Income Tax, West Bengal,  1 S.C.R. 972, distinguished.
CIVIL APPELLATE, JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 190 of 1955.
682 Appeal from the judgment and order dated
July 31, 1953, of the Hyderabad High Court in Reference Case No. 302/5 of
N. A. Palkhivala and B. Ganapathy Iyer, for
the appellants' H. N. Sanyal, Additional Solicitor-General of India, H. J.
Umrigar and D. Gupta, for the respondent.
1960. April 26. The Judgment of Kapur and
Hidayatullah, JJ., was delivered by Hidayatullah, J.S. K. Das, J., delivered a
S.K. DAS, J.-This is an appeal by the
assessee with leave of the High Court of Hyderabad granted under s. 66A(2) of
the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922.
The short facts are these. The appellant is a
private limited company carrying on the business, inter alia, of sale of
Shahabad stones (flag stones) which had to be extracted from quarries, dressed
and then sold. For the purpose of its business, the appellant took on contract
the right to excavate stones from certain quarries in six villages in Tandur
taluk for a period of twelve years under a Quolnama dated 9th March, 1343F,
from the then jagirdar of the taluk, named Nawab Mehdi Jung Bahadur. The
contract provided that the jagirdar should be paid annually a sum of Rs. 28,000
as consideration for extracting the stones till the end of the contract period,
as per a plan prepared, within the six villages specified therein. The
appellant had no right or interest in the land; nor did he have any other
interest in the quarries apart from excavating stones therefrom. The contract
specifically provided that the appellant, called the contractor, had no right
to manufacture cement from the stones; he had only the right to excavate stones
from the quarries till the end of the contract period. I may here quote some of
the relevant provisions of the Quolnama as to how the annual consideration of
Rs. 28,000 was to be paid. It said:
" 1. The period of contract for
excavating stones from the quarries of the villages noted above is for 12 years
from 1st Ardibehisht 1346 Fasli to the end of the Farwardi, 1358 Fasli and the
contractor will be given possession from 1st Ardibehisht 1346 Faisli.
683 2. The annual contract amount would be
3. For the surety of the contract the sum of
Rs. 96,000 0.
S. has been received and deposited in the
treasury of the Jagir towards the advance and earnest money and the security, a
receipt for the same has been issued separately.
4.The remaining annual balance sum of Rs.
20,000 may be deposited in the Jagir Treasury by instalment every month of Rs.
1,667-10-8; if there be any default in paying the instalment regularly,
interest at the rate of one rupee per cent. per mensem will be charged to the
contractor till the full payment.
There was another lease or contract taken
from Government for a period of five years for which the appellant was required
to pay Rs. 9,000 per year in monthly installments of Rs. 750. That was also in
respect of stone quarries. The terms of the said contract with Government have
not been printed in the paper book, presumably because they were similar in
nature to those of the Quolnama referred to above. ,The Income-tax Appellate
Tribunal found, and there is no dispute as to this, that under the aforesaid
two contracts the appellant had merely the right to extract Shahabad stones.
The Tribunal said:
" Flag stones of required thickness are
found in layers in those mines or quarries. Before one gets these flag stones
of the required thickness, one has also to extract flag stones of greater
thickness. The assessee sells these flag stones both of the usual thickness and
thickness greater than usual one, after working on them, if necessary."
There was no finding as to how deep the quarrying bad to be done to extract the
stones of required thickness.
According to the appellant's books of
account, it paid each year of account Rs. 37,000 as lease or contract money to
extract the stones under the two contracts and it claimed an allowance in
respect thereof under s. 12(2)(xv) of the Hyderabad Income-tax Act,
corresponding to s. 10(2)(xv) of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922. The Tribunal
stated that the Income-tax Officer was under some misapprehension or error
while examining the appellant's books of account, and held for the assessment year
1357F that the expenditure 684 of Rs. 27,054 as lease or contract money was
capital expenditure, in respect of which the appellant was not entitled to
claim any allowance under the relevant provision of the Hyderabad Income-tax
Act. For the assessment year 1358F he similarly held that the sum of Rs. 28,158
was capital expenditure and not revenue expenditure. There were two appeals to
the Appellate Assistant Commissioner who also held that the expenditure was
capital expenditure. Then, there was an appeal to the Income-tax Appellate
Tribunal, Bombay. The Accountant member of the Tribunal held that the payments
in question stood on the same footing as royalties and dead rent which are
allowable as working expenses in cases of mines and quarries. The President Of
the Tribunal expressed his finding thus:
" In the present case, the assessee
purchased his stock-intrade. Instead of paying so much for so many cubit feet,
he pays a lump sum every year. Parties might as well agree that the so called
lessee shall pay a sum of money bearing a proportion to the sales or quantum of
material extracted or a lump sum for the purpose of convenience. Because these
quarry leases are called leases, the assessee does not get an asset of an
enduring benefit. In fact, I find that the leases are renewed from time to
time. The lease money is, therefore, in my opinion, not capital expenditure but
revenue expenditure and should be allowed in computing the assessee's income
from the quarries." In the result, the Tribunal allowed the claim of the
appellant that the payment of the two sums of Rs. 27,054 and Rs. 28,158 for the
assessment years 1357F and 1358F respectively was in its true nature a revenue
expenditure rather than capital expenditure. On being satisfied that a question
of law arose out of its order, the Tribunal stated the following question for
the decision of the High Court:
" Whether the lease money paid by the
assessee company to Nawab Mehdi Jung Bahadur and to Government is capital
expenditure or revenue expenditure." The High Court answered the question
against the appellant.
Hence the present appeal.
685 My learned brethren have come to the
conclusion that the expenditure in question was capital expenditure.
Reluctantly and much to my regret I have come
to a different conclusion, and I proceed now to state the reasons for my
conclusion as briefly as I can.
It is not disputed that if the expenditure
was capital expenditure, then the appellant was not entitled to the benefit of
s. 12(2)(xv) of the Hyderabad Income-tax Act in the relevant years. It is
equally undisputed that if the expenditure was revenue expenditure, then the
appellant could claim an allowance in respect thereof. Therefore, it is
unnecessary to read the provisions of s. 12(2)(xv) of the Hyderabad Income-tax
Act or the corresponding provisions of s. 10(2)(xv) of the Indian Income-tax
Act, 1922. 1 plunge at once in medias res to a consideration of the crucial
/question in this case: were the two payments in question of the nature of
capital expenditure or revenue expenditure ? This distinction between capital
and revenue, either on the receipt or expenditure side, is almost a perennial
problem in Income-tax law. In general the distinction is wellrecognised and is
based on certain principles which are easy of application in some cases; but
from time to time cases arise which make the distinction difficult of
A large number of decisions were cited before
us, but no infallible criterion of universal application emerges there from and
each case must turn on its own facts, though the decisions are useful as
illustrations and as affording indication of the kind of considerations which
may relevantly be borne in mind in approaching the problem. I shall refer in
this judgment to such decisions only as have a bearing on the real controversy
between the parties.
In view of the submissions made before us,
the real controversy in this case appears to me to be this : in the context of
the terms of the contract between the parties, was the expenditure incurred
intended to create or bring into existence an asset or advantage of an enduring
character or was it intended to get only the stock-in-trade or the raw
materials for the business ? If it was the former, then it was capital 89 686
expenditure; if latter, then revenue expenditure. There is no doubt that
receipts and payments in connexion with acquiring or disposing of leaseholds of
mines or minerals are usually on capital account (Kamakshya Narain Singh v. Commissioner
of Income-tax (1)). The reason why the price paid for the purchase of mining
rights is a capital expenditure as explained by Channel J., in Alianza Co. v. Bell
(2) ,in the, following words:
"In the ordinary case, the cost of the
material worked up in a manufactory is not a capital expendture; it is a
current expenditure and does not become a capital expenditure merely because
the material is provided by something like a forward contract, under which a
person for the payment of a lump sum down secures a supply of the raw material
for a period extending over several years.............. If it is merely a
manufacturing business, then the procuring of the raw material would not be a
capital expenditure. But if it is like the working of a particular mine or bed
of brick earth and converting the stuff worked into a marketable commodity,
then the money paid for the prime cost of the stuff so dealt with is as much
capital as the money sunk in the machinery or buildings." Learned counsel
for the Department has strongly relied on these observations and has contended
that the ,appellant had no manufacturing business in the present case and the
price he paid for working the quarries was as much capital expenditure as money
sunk in machinery or buildings. But this contention ignores the absence of one
very important circumstance in this case. The acquisition of a mine or a mining
right is an enduring asset, because it is not a mere purchase of minerals but
is ail acquisition of a source from which flows the right to extract minerals;
in other words, the acquisition provides the means of obtaining the raw
material rather than the raw material itself ; therefore, it relates to fixed
capital, and in a business sense the acquiring of a leasehold of a mine is not
the purchase of raw materials only. It is something more than that. In the case
before us except the stones, nothing else was acquired.
Clauses 5 and 7 of the Quolnama said:
(1)  11 I.T.R. 513.
(2)  2 H. B. 666.
687 " 5. The contractor shall have no
right to excavate stones from other places of the Jagir Ilaqa except the
villages specified within the prescribed period of contract. The Jagir
authorities will not allow any other person to excavate these stones within the
jurisdiction of villages other than the villages specified above." .....................................................
7.The contractor shall have to excavate
stones from the quarries as per the plan. In case he requires a further area of
land in the village for excavation of stones, this will be done on his
application four months in advance. The contractor will have no right to
manufacture cement from the stones in the villages noted above." In view
of these clauses and the recital in the Quolnama that it was a quarry contract
for excavating stones only, it is in my view not reasonable to hold that what
the appellant acquired in the present case was the means of obtaining raw
material rather than the raw material itself.
It is, I think, an accepted position now that
the expression " capital expenditure " must normally be construed in
a business sense and emphasis should be placed upon the business aspect of the
transaction rather than on the purely legal and technical aspect. It is not,
therefore, necessary to determine whether the Quolnama in the present case was
in law a lease, or a license, or a license coupled with a grant. What we have
to consider is the nature of the transaction from the business point of view,
and it seems to me that having regard to the terms of the Quolnama, the
transaction in its true nature and quality was a sale of raw materials coupled
with a license to the appellant to come on the land and remove the materials
sold; the purchase price was to be paid partly in a lump sum and partly in monthly
installments. If that is the true nature of the transaction, there is no
difficulty in answering the question raised.
The only answer then is that the payments in
question were revenue expenditure.
688 I now refer to four decisions which in my
opinion come closest to the controversy before us. (1) In re: Benarsi Das
Jagannath (1); (2) Mohanlal Hargovind of Jubbulpore v. Commissioner of
Income-tax, C. P. and Berar, Nagpur (2) ;
(3) Abdul Kayoom v. Commissioner of
Income-tax, Madras (3 ) and (4) Stow Bardolph Gravel Co. Ltd. v. Poole
(Inspector of Taxes) (4). The first is a decision of the Full Bench of the
Lahore High Court, the second, a decision of the Privy Council, the third, a
decision of the Full Bench of the Madras High Court and the last a decision of
the Court of Appeal in England. The facts in Benarsi Das Jagannath (1) were
these. The assessee, who was a manufacturer of bricks, obtained certain lands
on leases for the purpose of digging out earth for the manufacture of bricks.
Under the deeds he had the right to dig earth up to three to three and a half
feet. He had no interest left in the lands as soon as the earth was dug out and
removed. The periods of the leases varied from six months to three years. The
Income-tax authorities and the Appellate Tribunal held that the consideration
paid by the assessee to the owners of the lands was a capital expenditure and
was therefore not an allowable deduction under s. 10(2)(xv) of the Indian
Incometax Act. It was held by the Full Bench that the main object of the
agreement was the procuring of earth for manufacturing bricks and not the
acquisition of an advantage of a permanent nature or of an enduring character,
that the payments made were the price of raw material and that the assessee was
therefore entitled to claim them as business expenditure under s. 10(2)(xv). It
was worthy of note that this decision was approved by this Court in Assam
Bengal Cement Co. Ltd. v. Commissioner of Income-tax, West Bengal (5).
Bhagwati, J., delivering the judgment of this Court said:
" This synthesis attempted by the Full
Bench of the Lahore High Court truly enunciates the principles which emerge
from the authorities. In cases where the expenditure is made for the initial
outlay or for (1)  I.L.R. 27 Lah. 307.
(3) I.L.R.  Mad. 1133.
(2)  L.R. 76 I.A. 235.
(4)  27 I.T.R. 146.
(5)  1 S.C.R. 972.
689 extension of a. business or a substantial
replacement of the equipment, there is no doubt that it is capital expenditure.
A capital asset of the business is either
acquired or extended or substantially replaced and that outlay whatever be its
source whether it is drawn from the capital or the income of the concern is
certainly in the nature of capital expenditure. The question, however, arises
for consideration where expenditure is incurred while the business is going on
and is not incurred either for extension of the business or for the substantial
replacement of its equipment. Such expenditure can be looked at either from the
point of view of what is acquired or from the point of view of what is the
source from which the expenditure is incurred. If the expenditure is made for
acquiring or bringing into existence an asset or advantage for the enduring
benefit of the business it is properly attributable to capital and is of the
nature of capital expenditure. If on the other hand it is made not for the
purpose of bringing into existence of any asset or advantage but for running
the business or working it with a view to produce the profits it is a revenue
expenditure. If any such asset or advantage for the enduring benefit of the
business is thus acquired or brought into existence it would be immaterial
whether the source of the payment was the capital or the income of the concern
or whether the payment was made once and for all or was made periodically. The
aim and object of the expenditure would determine the character of the
expenditure whether it is a capital expenditure or a revenue expenditure. The
source or the manner of the payment would then be of no consequence. It is only
in those cases where this test is of no avail that one may go to the test of
fixed or circulating capital and consider whether the expenditure incurred was
part of the fixed capital of the business or part of its circulating capital.
If it was part of the fixed capital of the business it would be of the nature
of capital expenditure and if it was part of its circulating capital it would
be of the nature of revenue expenditure. These tests are thus mutually
exclusive and have to be applied to the facts of each particular case in the
manner above indicated. It has been rightly 690 observed that in the great
diversity of human affairs and the complicated nature of business operations it
is difficult to lay down a test which would apply to all situations. One has
therefore got to apply these criteria one after the other from the business
point of view and come to the conclusion whether on a fair appreciation of the
whole situation the expenditure incurred in a particular case is of the nature
of capital expenditure or revenue expenditure in which latter event only it
would be a deductible allowance under section 10(2)(xv) of the Incometax Act.
The question has all along been considered to be a question of fact to be
determined by the Income-tax authorities on an application of the broad
principles laid down above and the Courts of law would not ordinarily interfere
with such findings of fact if they have been arrived at on a proper application
of those principles. " I do not read these observations as merely
indicating an approval of certain general principles, but not necessarily an
approval of the actual decision in Benarsidas Jagannath (1). In cases of this
nature it is the application of the principles to the facts of a case which
presents difficulties, and I do not think that this Court would have made the
observations it made, unless it was approving the actual decision in Benarsidas
Jagannath (1) in so far as it applied the general principles to the facts of
that case. I see no significant distinction between that case and the one
before us. In both cases, what was acquired was raw material-earth in one case
and stone in the other-and the payments made were the price of the raw
material. The only distinction pointed out is the difference in the period of
the contracts; that is a relevant factor but not determinative of the problem
before us. Even in our case the contract in favour of Government was for five
years only. Surely, it cannot be argued that three years in one case and five
years in the other will make all the difference. I think that the real test is,
in the context of the controversy before us, what was acquired-au enduring
asset or advantage, or raw materials for running the business ? Judged by that
test the present case stands on the same footing as the case of Benarsidas
Jagannath (1) (1) (1946) I.L.R. 27 Lah. 307, 691 In Mohanlal Hargovind (1) the
facts were these. The assessees carried on business at several places as manufactures
and vendors of country made cigarettes known as bidis. These cigarettes were
composed of tobacco rolled in leaves of a tree known as tendu leaves, which
were obtained by the assessees by entering into a number of short term
contracts with the Government and other owners of forests.
Under the contracts, in consideration of
certain sum payable by installments, the assessees were granted the exclusive
right to pick and carry away the tendu leaves from the forest area described.
The assessees were allowed to coppice small tendu plants a few months in
advance to obtain good leaves and to pollard tendu trees a few months in
advance to obtain better and bigger leaves. The picking of the leaves however
had to start at once or practically at once and to proceed continuously. The
Privy Council distinguished Alianza Co. v. Bell (2) and overruling the decision
in Income-tax Appellate Tribunal v. Haji Sabumiyan Haji Sirajuddin (3) held
that the expenditure was to secure raw material and was allowable as being on
Lord Greene delivering the judgment of the
" It appears to their Lordships that
there has been some misapprehension as to the true nature of these agreements
and they wish to state at once what in their opinion is and what is not the
effect of them. They are merely examples of many similar contracts entered into
by the appellants wholly and exclusively for the purpose of their business,
that purpose being to supply themselves with one of the, raw materials of that
business. The contracts grant no interest in land and no interest in the trees
or plants themselves.
They are simply and solely contracts giving
to the grantees the right to pick and carry away leaves, which, of course,
implies the right to appropriate them as their own property." " In
the present case the trees were not acquired: nor were the leaves acquired
until the appellants had reduced them into their own possession and ownership
by picking them. If the tendu leaves had been stored (1) (1949) L.R. 76 I.A.
235. (2)  2 K.B. 666.
(3)  14 I.T.R. 447.
692 in a merchant's godown and the appellants
had bought the right to go and fetch them and so reduce them into their
possession and ownership it could scarcely have been suggested that the
purchase price was capital expenditure.
Their Lordships see no ground in principle or
reason for differentiating the present case from that supposed. " I also
see no ground in principle or reason for differentiating the present case from
that of Mohanlal Hargovind (1).
In K. T. M. T. M. Abdul Kayoom and Hussain
Commissioner of Income-tax, Madras (2 ) a
Full Bench of the Madras High Court dissenting from its earlier decisions held
that rent paid by a dealer in chank under an agreement in the form of a
,lease" with the Government under which he had an exclusive right "
to fish for, take and carry away all the chank shells in the sea off the coast
line " of a certain district, was allowable as revenue expenditure. It was
further held there that it made no difference whether what was acquired was raw
material for a manufacturing business or stock-in-trade which was intended to
be sold without being subjected to any manufacturing process. This decision is
the subject of Civil Appeal No. 64 of 1956 which has been heard along with this
appeal. I do not see how the present case can be distinguished from the Madras
case without holding that the Madras decision was incorrect.
Last, I come to Stow Bardolph Gravel Co.
Ltd.(3) That was a case in which it was held that sums paid by a dealer in
gravel as consideration for the right to excavate and take away deposits of
gravel represented capital expenditure.
The decision rested on the fact that the
subject matter of the agreement consisted of a deposit of gravel living some
feet beneath the surface of the land and requiring to be won from the land by a
process of excavation. I find it difficult to reconcile this decision with the
decision in Benarsidas Jagannath (4) and Abdul Kayoom (2) in both of which also
excavation or exploration was necessary to win the raw material. If, as I hold,
the decision in Benarsidas Jagannath (4) was approved by this Court then we (1)
(1949) L.R. 76 I.A. 235. (2) I.L.R.  Mad. 1133.
(3)  27 I.T.R. 146. (4) (1946) I.L.R.
27 Lah. 307.
693 must accept that decision as correct in
preference to the decision of the Court of Appeal in England. I may point out
here what Evershed, M. R., said in the course of his judgment in that case:
" The Commissioners for the General
Purpose of the Income Tax were of opinion that these claims to make deductions
were not admissible, but Harman, J., was of opinion that the deductions were
admissible. I have myself reached a different conclusion from that reached by
Harman, J., and I have reached it, I confess, with some slight feeling of regret
and misgiving on two grounds: first, I think the result bears a little hardly
on the taxpayers for reasons which will, I think, emerge without any necessity
for emphasis as I recite the facts; second, I am not for my own part satisfied
that if close investigation were made of the method whereby the taxpayers and
others in the same line of business carry on their businesses, it might not
emerge-I say no more than that-that the Commissioners would find as a fact,
notwithstanding the apparent legal consequences of the agreement to which I
have referred, there was here in truth such a taking possession of the deposit
of gravel in question that it could sensibly for tax purposes and rightly and
fairly be said that once the consideration money had been paid under the
agreement the deposit was in truth the stock-in-trade of the taxpayer. However,
I have felt compelled to say that there is no finding of fact to support such a
conclusion, nor indeed is there before us any evidence sufficient to warrant
it. It is in that respect, "apprehend, that I find myself at variance with
Harman, J." .....................................................
"If the facts were as the judge
intimated, the General Commissioners might find, and might justifiably find,
that a case such as this is not really distinguishable as a matter of law and
common sense from a sale of loose objects lying on the surface of the ground,
such as windfalls from apple trees, or even from cases like those I have
mentioned, which are concerned with crops or leaves growing on trees. But my
difficulty is that I can find no justification for that conclusion in the
material before us." 90 694 In view of these observations I have
considerable hesitation, and I say this with great respect, in accepting the decision
as a decision on a general question of law.
The decision proceeded on the findings of the
Commissioners and on the basis that there were no materials for the conclusion
reached by Harman, J. If we proceed on the findings of the Tribunal in the
present case, there are enough materials to support the finding that the
appellant acquired nothing but raw materials by the transactions in question.
I find nothing in the decision in Stow
Bardolph Gravel Co. Ltd. (1) which need lead me to the conclusion that the
decisions in Benarsidas Jagannath (2) and Abdul Kayoom (3) were wrong and
require reconsideration. If I may again say so with great respect, the learned
Master of the Rolls distinguished the Privy Council decision in Mohanlal
Hargovind (4) by saying that decision rested upon the particular circumstances
of the case and upon the fact that the Board was able to say that from the
moment the contract was entered into and before the leaves had actually been
picked, the tendu leaves were part of the raw material of the appellant. He
added that he could not say the same of sand and gravel, which were part of the
earth itself and which could only become part of the stock-in-trade of the
gravel merchant's business when it had, in the true sense, been won, been excavated
and been taken into their possession. I do not, however, think that the
decision in Mohanlal Hargovind (4) proceeded on the basis suggested by the
learned Master of the Rolls. In clear and express terms Lord Greene said:
"nor were the leaves acquired until the appellant reduced them into their
possession and ownership by picking them." This shows that the decision of
the Privy Council did not proceed on the ground alleged, namely, that even
before the leaves had actually, been picked, they were part of the raw material
of the appellant of that case. The decision proceeded on the footing that the
leaves became part of the raw material when they were reduced into possession
and ownership by picking (1)  27 I.T.R. 146.
(3)  24 I.T.R. 116.
(2) (1946) I.L.R. 27 Lah. 307.
(4) (1949) L.R. 76 I.A. 235.
695 3 S.C.R. SUPREME COURT REPORTS them. If
that is the correct ratio of Mohanlal Hargovind (1), then where is the
distinction between that case and the case of the gravel merchant in Stow, Bardolph
Gravel Co. Ltd. (2) and the stone merchant in the present case ? In my opinion
there is none.
In the result and for the reasons given
above, I hold that the expenditure in question was on revenue account and the
appellant was entitled to the allowance he claimed. The answer given by the
High Court was wrong and the appeal should be allowed with costs.
HIDAYATULLAH, J.-This is an assessee's appeal
on a certificate of the High Court granted under s. 66A(2) of the Indian
Pingle Industries Ltd. (hereinafter called
the assessee) is a private limited Company which carries on, among other
businesses, the business of extracting stones from quarries, which, after
dressing, it sells as flag stones. In the year 1343 Fasli, the assessee obtained
from Nawab Mehdi Jung Bahadur of Hyderabad the right to extract stones from
certain quarries belonging to the Nawab. A quolnama (contract) was executed,
and it has been produced in the case.
Under this quolnama, the assessee was granted
the right to extract stones from quarries situated in six named villages for a
period of 12 years (1346 Fasli to 1358 Fasli) on annual payment of Rs. 28,000.
To safeguard payment Rs. 96,000 representing a part of the annual payments at
Rs. 8,000 per year were paid in advance as security, and the balance of Rs.
20,000 was payable each year in monthly installments of Rs. 1,666-10-8 each. In
default of punctual payment of these instalments, interest at Re.1 per cent was
to be charged. Some other conditions of the quolnama may also be briefly
mentioned here. The assessee undertook not to manufacture cement and also to be
,responsible for the payment of the money in spite of " any celestial or
terrestrial or unexpected calamity or unforeseen event ", while the Nawab
on his part undertook not to allow any other person to excavate stones in the
area of the six villages.
It was agreed that in case of default of installment,
the contract (1) (1949) L.R. 76 I.A. 235. (2)  27 I T.R. 146.
696 would be re-auctioned after One month's
notice to the contractor, who would be responsible for any shortfall but would
not have the benefit of any extra amount.
The assessee was assessed in the Fasli years
1357 and 1358 for the account years 1356 and 1357 Fasli. It claimed deduction
respectively of Rs. 27,054 and Rs. 28,159 paid to the Nawab in those years, as
expenditure under s. 12(2)(xv) of the Hyderabad Income-tax Act, which is the
same as the corresponding pro. vision under the Indian Income-tax Act.
The claim for deduction was refused by the
Income-tax Officer, who held that the amount in each year represented a capital
expenditure though the whole sum was being paid in instalments. The assessee
appealed against the two orders of assessment to the Appellate Officer of
Income-tax, and questioned this decision. The appeals involved other matters
also, with which we are not now concerned. The appeals were dismissed. The
assessee appealed further to the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal, Bombay, and
raised the same contention. The Appellate Tribunal accepted the appeals.
Different reasons were given by the President and the Accountant Member.
According to the latter, the payment of these sums was similar to the payment
of royalties and dead rent which is allowable as working expense in the case of
mines and quarries. The President relied upon Mohantal Hargovind v.
Commissioner of Income-tax (1), and held that the payments represented the
purchase of the stock-in-trade of the assessee, and that the leases did not
create an asset of an enduring character.
The Commissioner of Income-tax, Hyderabad
Division, then asked for a reference of the case to the High Court at
Hyderabad, and the Appellate Tribunal referred the following question of law
under s. 66(1) of the Hyderabad Income-tax Act:
" Whether the lease-money paid by the
assessee Company to Nawab Mehdi Jung Bahadur and to Government is capital
expenditure or revenue expenditure." The reference to Government in the
question arises in this way. It appears that there was yet another (1) (1949) L.R.
76 I.A. 235.
697 lease which was taken from Government for
5 year. and under which the assessee was required to pay Rs. 9,000 per year in
installments of Rs. 750 per month. It does not appear that the terms of this
lease were ascertained and the amount does not figure in the order of
assessment, though apparently it was assumed that what applied to the payment
to the Nawab held equally good in regard to the payment to Government.
In any event, the books of the assessed kept
in mercantile system showed both the sums each year as lease money.
The High Court of Hyderabad after an
examination of several decisions rendered in India and the United Kingdom, held
that the payments in each year of account were of a capital nature, and that no
deduction could be given under s. 12(2) (xv) of the Hyderabad Income-tax Act.
The assessee then applied, and obtained the certificate as stated, and this
appeal has been filed.
The arguments in the case involved the
interpretation of the quolnama as to the right conveyed there and the nature of
the payments with reference to the provision of the law under which the
deduction was claimed. That section reads as follows:
" 12 (1). The tax shall be payable by an
assessee under the head profits and gains of business, profession or vocation
in respect of the profits and gains of any business, profession or vocation
carried or by him.
(2) Such profits or gains shall be computed
after making the following allowances, namely:......................................................
(XV) Any expenditure (not being in the nature
of capital expenditure or personal expenses of the assessee) laid out or
expended wholly and exclusively for the purpose of such business, profession or
vocation." While the Appellate Tribunal looked to the periodicity of the
payments, the High Court held that the amount payable was Rs. 3,36,000 divided
into annual and redivided into monthly installments. The Tribunal also
considered the payments as of the nature of rent or royalty or as price for raw
materials. The High 698 court, on the other hand, disagreed, and held that here
being no manufacturing business, the money expended could not be regarded as
price of raw materials or even as rent but as spent to acquire a capital asset
of enduring benefit to the assessee. The High court referred to numerous
decisions in which the question whether a receipt or expenditure is on capital
or revenue account has been considered in India and the United Kingdom. Before
us also, many of them were again cited as illustrating, if not laying down,
certain general principles. We shall refer to some of the leading cases later,
but we may say at once that no conclusive tests have been laid down which can
apply to all the cases. The facts of one case differ so much from those of another
that the enquiry is often somewhat fruitless.
If, however, the distinguishing features are
not lost sight of, the decided cases do afford a guide for the solution of the
problem in hand.
The arguments of Mr. Palkhivala for the
assessee may be shortly stated. He contends that the quolnama is a licence and
not a lease, because it creates no interest in land and no premium is payable
for the right, but what is paid is periodic compensation corresponding to rent.
He contends that the payments can only be regarded as periodic compensation or
periodic royalty or licence fees and thus revenue in character. He further
argues that even if held to be a lump sum payment broken up into instalments,
it is still allowable as expenditure because it represents the price for the
acquisition of raw materials, viewed from the business angle. According to him,
all cases of mines and quarries fall into three classes which are:
(i) in which mines and quarries are purchased
(ii)in which ownership is not acquired but
only an interest in land; and (iii) in which there is not even an interest in
land but there is an arrangement in praesent and de futuro to ensure supply of
He contends that this being evidently not a
case within the first category, it matters not which of the other two
categories it belongs to, because in his submission, both the remaining
categories exclude a case 699 of capital expenditure. He, however, seems
inclined to put his case in the third category.
The learned Additional Solicitor-General on
his side enumerates the tests which determine whether an expenditure bears a
capital or revenue character. According to him, decided cases show that capital
expenditure is ordinarily once and for all and not of a periodic character, but
contends that even a single sum chopped up into installments is not a payment
of a periodic character. He submits that capital expenditure is one which
brings into existence an enduring advantage, which, he maintains, is the case
here, because the money was spent on the initiation of the business and to
obtain a permanent source of raw materials and not only the materials.
The quolnama shows that the agreement was for
12 years. The assessee paid an initial sum of Rs. 96,000 a,% security for the
whole contract. He was required to pay Rs. 28,000 per year. The security which
was given was being diminished at the rate of Rs. 8,000 per year. It was a
failure to pay the monthly installments, but
there was no condition that the short payments were to be debited to it.
It was rather a guarantee for the overall
payment and to reimburse the jagir for any loss occasioned by a re-auction of
the lease after default by the assessee. Further, the payments were to be made
even if no stones were extracted or could not be extracted due to force
majeure. There was no limit to the quantity to be extracted. There was also a
condition that none but the assessee was allowed to work the quarries, which
means that the right was exclusive and in the nature of a monopoly. The
payment, though divided into installments of Rs. 1,666-10-8 per month, was
really one for the entire lease and of Rs. 3,36,000. Nothing, however, turns
upon it. It is pertinent to say that the assessee in its petition for leave to
appeal to this Court filed in the High Court, viewed the amount as being Rs.
3,36,000 divided into various parts. This is what it said:
" Under the terms of the said lease, the
Company was required to pay a sum of H. S. Rs. 28,000 per annum to the lessor.
The total amount payable for 700 the entire period amounted to IRS. 3,36,000
out of which a sum of Rs. 96,000 was paid at the time of the execution of the
lease deed and the balance of Rs. 2,40,000 was agreed to be paid at the rate of
Rs. 20,000 per annum in twelve years.
It was also agreed that this sum of Rs.
20,000 per annum should be paid in equal installments of Rs. 1,66-10-8 every
month. On the expiry of the period of lease, it was renewed for a further
period of five years and seven months at an annual rent of Rs. 35,000."
These being, the terms of the lease, the question is whether the payments in
the account years can be regarded as capital or revenue expenditure.
The question whether an expenditure is
capital or revenue in character is one of common occurrence. Its frequency,
however, has not served to elucidate the tests with any degree of certainty and
precision. It has now become customary to start with two propositions which
appear to have been received without much argument. The first was laid down in
Vallambrosa Rubber Co. Ltd. v. Farmer (1), where Lord Dunedin observed that
"in a rough way" it was " not a bad criterion of what is capital
expenditure as against what is income expenditure to say that capital
expenditure is a thing that is going to be spent once and for all and income
expenditure is a thing which is going to recur every year ". This
proposition was further qualified by Lord Cave in Atherton v. British Insulated
and Hels by Cables Ltd. (2) in the following words:
" When an expenditure is made, not only
once and for all, but with a view to bringing into existence an asset or an
advantage for the enduring benefit of a trade, I think there is very good
reason (in the absence of special circumstances leading to the opposite
conclusion) for treating such an expenditure as properly attributable, not to
revenue, but to capital." The words " enduring benefit of a trade
" have been further explained as meaning not " everlasting ",
but in the way capital endures ", see Du Pareq, L. J., in (1) (1910)
(2)  A.C. 205, 213 701 Henriksen v.
Grafton Hotel Ltd. (1) and Rowlatt, J., in Anglo-Persian oil Co. v. Dale (2).
Another test propounded by Viscount Haldane
in John Smith & Son v. Moore (3) is to distinguish, as economists do,
between fixed and circulating capital. This appears to have appealed to Lord
Hanworth, M. R.,, in Golden Horse Shoe (New) Ltd. v. Thurgood (4); but in Van
Den Berghs Limited v. Clark (5), Lord Macmillan observed that he did not find
it very helpful. Often enough, where the character of the expenditure shows
that what has resulted is something which is to be used in the way of business,
the test may be useful; but in cases close to the dividing line, the test seems
A third test was laid down by the Judicial
Committee in Tata Hydro-Electric Agencies Ltd., Bombay v. Commissioner of
Income-tax (6). There, it was stated that if the expenditure was part of the
working expenses in ordinary commercial trading it was not capital but revenue.
The Judicial Committee observed:
"What is money wholly and exclusively
laid out for the purposes of the trade' is a question which must be determined
upon the principles of ordinary commercial trading. It is necessary,
accordingly, to attend to the true nature of the expenditure, and to ask
oneself the question, is it a part of the company's working expenses; is it
expenditure laid out as part of the process of profit earning ? " In
addition to these three tests, the last of which was applied again by the
Judicial Committee in Mohanlat Hargovind's case (7), there are some
supplementary tests, which have frequently been alluded to. Lord Sands in
Commissioners of Inland Revenue v. Granite City Steamship Co. Ltd.
charaeterised as capital an outlay made for the initiation of a business, for
extension of a business, or for a substantial replacement of equipment. In that
case, there was extensive damage to a ship, and repairs were necessary to
resume trading, such expense being held to be capital expenditure. The
questions which Lord Clyde posed in Robert Addie & Sons Collieries Ltd. v.
Commissioners of Inland Revenue(1), namely:
" Is it part of the Company's working
expenses, is it expenditure laid out as part of the process of profit earning
?-or, on the other hand, is it capital outlay, is it expenditure necessary for
the acquisition of property or of rights of a permanent character, the
possession of which is a condition of carrying on its trade at all ? "
influenced the Privy Council in Tata Hydro-Electric Agencies Ltd., Bombay v.
Commissioner of Income-tax (2) (at p. 209), and the latter part of the question
is the test laid down by Lord Sands, to which we have referred.
There is then the test whether by the
expenditure the taxpayer was ensuring supplies of raw material or purchasing
them. This test is adverted to by Channell, J., in Alianza Co. Ltd. v. Bell (3
) and approved by the House of Lords.
Says Channell, J.:
" In the ordinary case, the cost of the
material worked up in a manufactory is not a capital expenditure, it is a
current expenditure and does not become a capital expenditure merely because
the material is provided by something like a forward contract, under which a
person for the payment of a lump sum secures a supply of the raw material for a
period extending over several years...... If it is merely a manufacturing
business, then the procuring of the raw material would not be a capital
expenditure. But if it is like the working of a particular mine, or bed of
brick earth and converting the stuff into a marketable commodity, then the
money paid for the prime cost of the stuff so dealt with is just as much
capital as the money sunk in machinery or buildings." The application of
this proposition finds an example in Mohanlal Hargovind's case (4), where tendu
leaves were the subject of expenditure. The firm in that case had paid for
purchasing a right to collect tendu leaves from forest, which right included
the right of (1) (1924) 8 T.C. 671, 676.
(3) (1910) 5 T.C. 60.
(2) (1937) L.R. 64 I.A. 215.
(4) (1949) L.R. 76 I.A. 235.
703 entry and coppicing and pollarding. No
right in the land or the trees and plants was conveyed, and the Judicial
Committee laid emphasis on the nature of the business of the firm, and equated
the expenditure to one for acquiring the raw materials for the manufacturing business.
The cases to which we have referred and many
more of the High Courts in India where the principles were applied with the
exception of the one last cited, were all considered by this Court in Assam
Bengal Cement Co. Ltd. v. Commissioner of Income-tax(6). In that case,
Bhagwati, J., referred to a decision of the Punjab High Court in Benarsidas
Jagannath, In re (2), where Mahajan, J. (as he then was), summarised the
position and the various tests. This Court quoted with approval this summary,
and observe at p. 45:
" In cases where the expenditure is made
for the initial outlay or for extension of a business or a substantial
replacement of the equipment, there is no doubt that it is capital expenditure.
A capital asset of the business is either acquired or extended or substantially
replaced and that outlay whatever be its source whether it is drawn from the
capital or the income of the concern is certainly in the nature of capital
expenditure. The question however arises for consideration where expenditure is
incurred while the business is going on and is not incurred either for
extension of the business or for the substantial replacement of its equipment.
Such expenditure can be looked at either from the point of view of what is
acquired or from the point of view of what is the source from which the
expenditure is incurred. If the expenditure is made for acquiring or bringing
into existence an asset or advantage for the enduring benefit of the business
it is properly attributable to capital and is of the nature of capital
expenditure. If on the other hand it is made not for the purpose of bringing
into existence any such asset or advantage but for running the business or
working it with a view to produce the profits it is a revenue expenditure. If
any such asset or advantage for the enduring benefit of the business is (1)
 1.S.C.R. 972.
(2) (1046) I.L.R. 27 Lah. 307.
704 thus acquired or brought into existence
it would be immaterial whether the source of the payment was the capital or the
income of the concern or whether the payment was made once and for all or was
made periodically. The aim and object of the expenditure would determine the
character of the expenditure whether it is a capital expenditure or a revenue
expenditure. The source or the manner of the payment would then be of no
consequence. It is only in those cases where this test is of no avail that one
may go to the test of fixed or circulating capital and consider whether the
expenditure incurred was part of the fixed capital of the business or part of
its circulating capital.
If it was part of the fixed capital of the
business it would be of the nature of capital expenditure and if it was part of
its circulating capital it would be of the nature of revenue expenditure. These
tests are thus mutually exclusive and have to be applied to the facts of each
particular case in the manner above indicated." Learned counsel in the
present case rested his case upon the decision of the Punjab High Court in
Benarsidas case (1), and stated that after its approval by this Court, the
expenditure here could not but be held as on capital account. He relied
strongly also upon the decision of the Judicial Committee in Mohanlal
Hargovind's case (2 ).
Reference was made to other decisions, which
we will briefly notice later.
In Benarsidas case (1), the person sought to
be assessed was a manufacturer of bricks. He obtained certain lands for digging
out earth for his manufacture. Under the deeds which gave him this right, he
could dig up to a depth of 3 feet. to 31 feet. He had no interest in the land,
and as soon as the earth was removed, his right was at an end. It was held in
that case that the main object of the agreements was the procuring of earth as
raw materials and by the expenditure the-lessee had not acquired any advantage
of a permanent or enduring character. It is, however, to be noticed that the
duration of the leases was from six months to three years. The Full Bench
referred to (1) (1946) I.L.R. 27 Lah. 307.
(2) (1994) L.R. 76 I.A. 235.
705 some other leases in which the duration
was longer, and observed:
" There are other agreements which are
not before us and it seems that the items mentioned in the question referred
relate to those agreements as well. We do not know the nature of the agreements,
but the question can be answered by saying that expenses incurred during the
year of assessment for purchase of earth on basis of agreements of the nature
mentioned in the case of Benarsidas or of the nature like Exhibit T. E. are
admissible deductions, while sums spent for obtaining leases for a
substantially long period varying from 10 to 20 years cannot be held to be
valid deductions if they amount to an acquisition of an asset of an enduring
advantage to the lessee." It appears that the Full Bench was persuaded to
this view from two considerations. The first was that what was acquired was
earth with no interest in land, and the other was the short term of the leases.
The approval given to Benarsidas case (1) by
this Court does not extend beyond the summary of the tests settled in it, and
the tests have to be applied to the facts of each case in the manner indicated
by this Court. But the actual decision was not before this Court, and cannot be
said to have been approved. The agreements in the present case are long-term
contracts. They give the right to extract stones in six villages, without any
limit by measurement or quantity. They give the right exclusively to quarry for
a number of years. This case is thus very different on facts.
Further, the duration of the right which
seems to have weighed with the Full Bench in the Punjab High Court has little
to do with the character of the expenditure even if it be a relevant factor to
consider. In Henriksen's case(2) the right was only for 3 years, but monopoly
value having been paid for it, the result was a capital asset of an enduring
In Mohanlal Hargovind's case (3), the person
assessed was a bidi manufacturer who had obtained short-term (1) (1946) I.L.R.
27 Lah. 307. (2) (1942) 24 T.C. 453, 462, C.A.
(3) (1949) L.R. 76 I.A. 235.
706 contracts with Government and other
forest owners to obtain tendu leaves from the forests. These tendu leaves with
tobacco are used to roll into cigarettes. The contracts gave a right of entry
into forests to collect the leaves and also to coppice the plants and to
pollard the tendu trees, but beyond this gave no interest in land. The Judicial
Committee held that these contracts were in a business sense for the purpose of
securing supplies to the manufacturers of one of the raw materials of his
business. They granted no interest in land or the plants or trees. The small
right of cultivation and the exclusive nature of the grant were of no
significance. Then, the Judicial Committee observed as follows:
" Cases relating to the purchase or
leasing of mines, quarries, deposits of brick earth, land with standingtimber,
etc. do not appear to their Lordships to be of assistance." The Board
distinguished Alianza Co. Ltd. v. Bell which was said to be a case analogous to
purchase or leasing of a mine and Kauri Timber Company's case (2), which was a
case of acquisition of land or of standing timber which was an interest in
land. In either case, it was a capital asset.
Their Lordships finally observed:
" In the present case the trees were not
acquired; nor were the leaves acquired until the appellants had reduced them
into their own possession and ownership by picking them.
The two cases can, in their Lordships'
opinion, in no sense be regarded as comparable. If the tendu leaves had been
stored in a merchant's godown and the appellants had bought the right to go and
fetch them and so reduce. them into their possession and ownership it could
scarcely have been suggested that the purchase price was capital expenditure.
Their Lordships see no ground in principle or
reason for differentiating the present case from that supposed." It is to
be noticed that the Privy Council case was not applied but distinguished by the
Court of Appeal in England in Stow Bardolph Gravel Co. Ltd. V. Poole (3).
(1) (1910) 5 T.C. 60.
(2)  A.C. 771. (3)  35 T.C. 459.
707 In that ease, the Company was doing the
business of selling sand and gravel. It purchased two unworked deposits, and it
claimed that the payment should be deducted from its profits as being
expenditure for acquiring its trading stock. It was held that the Company had
acquired a capital asset and not a stock-in-trade. Harman, J., before whom the
appeal came from the decision of the General Commissioners, said that the case
was indistinguishable from the Golden Horse Shoe case (1), where the tailings
were regarded as the stock-in-trade of the taxpayer. He observed :
" Now, it is said here that the opposite
conclusion should be reached, and I think in substance the reason is because
this gravel had never been raked off the soil upon which it was lying. There is
no question, in any true sense, of extracting gravel; there is no process, as I
understand it, gone through here. It is not even suggested that a riddle or
sieve is used; you merely dig it up or rake it up where it lies, put it on the
lorry and sell it wherever you can.
It is said what was bought was a mere right
to go on the place and win the gravel, but, in effect, in the Golden Horse Shoe
case (1) what was bought was the licence to go on the land and take away the
tailings, and 'myself think that it is a distinction without difference to
suggest that, because nobody had ever applied a rake to this gravel before, it
should be treated as capital, whereas if somebody had raked it into little
heaps before the contract was made then its purchase would constitute a
different form of adventure. It is the same situation; it is no more and-,.no
less attached to the land." In dealing with this case on appeal, Lord
Evershed, M. R. (then Sir Raymond Evershed), felt that the case was a little
hard upon the taxpayer, and further that it might, if proper enquiry bad been
made, have been possible to hold that after the price was paid, the sand and
gravel become, in truth, the stock-in-trade of the taxpayer. Taking the facts,
however, as found, he held that what was purchased was a part of the (1) (1933)
18 T.C. 280, 298.
708 land itself, namely, the gravel in situ.
He held that there was a distinction between the purchase of a growing crop or
leaves and the purchase of gravel. Lord Evershed then analysed the agreement,
and observed as follows:
" I think that, once it has to be
conceded that there was no sale of the gravel in the way the Judge said there
was, then it must follow that what was here acquired was the means of getting
the gravel by excavating and making it part of the stock-in-trade."
Reference was then made by him to cases in which what was purchased or taken on
lease was land or an interest in land, and Mohanlal Hargovid's case (1) was
distinguished on the ground that in that case it was possible to say of tendu
leaves that they were acquired as the raw material for manufacture. The
argument of Mr. Magnus in the case described as ail attempt to substitute sand
and gravel for tendu leaves was not accepted, Lord Evershed observing:
" But I cannot say the same of the sand
and gravel, part of the earth itself, which was the subject of the contract
here in question and which I think only could sensibly become part of the stock-in-trade
of this gravel merchants' business when it had in the true sense been won, had
been excavated and been taken into their possession." We are in entire
agreement that such a distinction is not only palpable but also sensible. The
present case is a fortiori. Here, the stones are not lying on the surface but
are part of a quarry from which they have to be extracted methodically and skillfully
before they can be dressed and sold. These deposits are extensive, and the work
of the assessee carries him deep under the earth. Such a deposit cannot be
described as the stock-in-trade of the assessee, but stones detached and won
can only be so described.
Before we deal with the other cases, we wish
to state the distinguishing features of the cases already mentioned, and which
have not often been viewed together. In the Alianza case (2), the sale was not
of the caliche as such but of the right to win it from a (1) (1949) L.R. 76
I.A. 235. (2) (1910) 5 T.C. 60, 709 deposit thereof, and it was treated as an
expenditure of a capital nature. In the Stow Bardolph case(,), the finding was
that sand and gravel had to be won, and it was held that they could not be
treated as stock-in-trade till they were actually won. The doubt expressed by
Lord Evershed was that if the taking of sand and gravel involved merely taking
them up and putting them into trucks, the finding could have been otherwise.
Harman, J., made this distinction, but in view of the finding, the Court of
Appeal came to a different conclusion. Indeed, Harman, J., himself would have
decided differently if there was, in any true sense, a question of extracting
gravel. He, therefore, thought that the case resembled the Golden Horse Shoe
case (2) where the " tailings " were bargained for and paid for, and
became the stock-in-trade of the tax-payer. In Mohanlal Hargovind's case (3),
there being no interest in land or trees or plants and the right of cultivation
and the exclusiveness of the right to the leaves being insignificant, the
contracts were treated as leading to acquisition of the raw materials. The
leaves on trees were treated as equal to leaves in a shop.
It was on this ground that case was
distinguished from the Kauri Timber Company case (4), in which land and
interest in land in the shape of standing timber were involved. The case in
Hood-Barrs v. Commissioners of Inland Revenue (5) was similar to the last
cited. In the present case, the assessee acquired a right to extract stones and
his lease included not only the stones on the top but also those buried out of
sight under Tons of other stones, which he could only reach after extracting
those above. This case is thus within the rule of those cases in which the
right acquired is to a source from which the raw materials are to be extracted.
The doubt expressed by Lord Evershed does not apply to the facts here, because
the reasons given by Harman, J., cannot be made applicable at all.
In Kamakshya Narain Singh v. Commissioner of
Income-tax(6), the case involved payment of certain annual sums by way of
salami for mining rights, and (1)  27 I.T.R. 146.
(3)  17 I.T R. 473.
(5)  34 I.T.R. 238.
(2) (1933) 18 T.C. 280.
(4)  A.C. 771.
(6)  11 I.T.R. 513. P.C.
710 these were regarded as capital income.
There were also two other payments, namely, royalty on coal raised and a
provision for minimum royalty. These were regarded as not capital receipts but
as assessable income. In dealing with the nature of the working of a mine,
certain observations were made. It was contended that the payments amounted to
conversion of a capital asset into cash. The argument was repelled by the
Judicial Committee in these words:
These are periodical payments, to be made by
the lessee under his covenants in consideration of the benefits which he is
granted by the lessor. What these benefits may be is shown by the extract from
the lease quoted above, which illustrates how inadequate and fallacious it is
to envisage the royalties as merely the price of the actual tons of coal. The
tonnage royalty is indeed payable when the coal or coke is gotten and
despatched; but that is merely the last stage. As preliminary and ancillary to
that culminating act, liberties #are granted to enter on the land and search,
to dig and sink pits, to erect engines and machinery, coke ovens, furnaces and
form railways and roads.
All these and the like liberties show how
fallacious it is to treat the lease as merely one for the acquisition of a
certain number of tons of coal, or the agreed item of royalty as merely the
price of each ton of coal. The contract is in truth much more complex. The
royalty is 'in substance a rent; it is the compensation which the occupier pays
the landlord for that species of occupation which the contract between them
allows' to quote the words of Lord Denman in R. v. Westbrook (1). He was
referring to leases of coal mines, clay pits and slate quarries. He added that
in all these the occupation was only valuable by the removal of portions of the
soil. It is true that he was dealing with occupation from the point of view of
rating, but compensation has the same meaning in its application to matters of
taxation such as are involved in this case." Thus, the contention of the
learned counsel for the assessee that we should treat this quolnama as merely
(1) (1875) 10 Q.B. 178 711 showing a licence and not a lease creating interest
in land is not correct. A lease to take out sand was described in Kanjee and
Moolji Bros. v. Shanmugam Pillai (1) as amounting to a transfer of interest in
immovable property and also so, in connection with the Registration Act in
Secretary of State for India v. Kuchwar Lime and Stone Co. (2). It is thus
clear that what the assessee acquired was land, a part of which in the shape of
stones he was to appropriate under the covenants. He was not purchasing stones,
and the price paid could not in any sense be referable to stones as stock in-trade.
The stones extracted might have become his stockin-trade, but the stones in
situ were not so.
Nor do we agree that the periodicity of
payments has any significance. As was pointed out by Lord Greene, M. R., in
Henriksen's case (3) :
"If the sum payable is not in the nature
of revenue expenditure, it cannot be made so by permitting it to be paid in
annual instalments. These payments by installments in respect of monopoly value
have not the annual quality of the payments for the grant of the annual excise
licence, but are of a different character altogether...... Here the Appellants
were minded to acquire as asset in the shape of a licence for a term of
years." The learned Master of the Rolls added that the annual payments
gave " a false appearance of periodicity ".
Applying the above test to the present case,
it is obvious that the monthly payments of Rs. 1,666-10-8 did not represent the
lease amount for a month. This was a case in which the assessee bad acquired an
asset of an enduring character for which he had to put his hand in his pocket
for a very large sum indeed. He paid Rs. 96,000 down, but for the rest he asked
for easy terms. The amount paid every month was not in any sense a payment for
acquisition of the right from month to month. It was really the entire sum
chopped into small payments for his convenience. Nor can the amount be
described as a business expense, because the outgoings every month were not (1)
(1933) I.L.R. 56 Mad. 169. (2) (1937) L.R. 65 I.A. 45, 5, (3) (1942) 24 T.C.
453.462, C.A, 712 to be taken as spent over purchase of stones but in discharge
of the entire liability to the jagir.
Some of the cases to which we were referred
may now be briefly noted. Hakim Ram Prasad, In re (1) was a case of renting of
a cinema projector for 10 years. The amount paid was thus hire for the machine.
'In Commissioner of Income-tax v. Globe Theatres Ltd. (2) the assessee advanced
Rs. 10,000 to a company for the construction of a cinema house which was never
built. Since the amount was not salami or premium but only advance rent, it was
held deductible. Commissioner of Income-tax v. Kolhia Hirdagarh Co. Ltd. (3)
was a case of commission on every ton of coal raised, and it was held to be
revenue expenditure. These cases are entirely different, and can be of no
authority for payments, such as we have.
Reliance was also placed upon Parmanand
Haveli Ram In re (4), Nand Lal Bhoj Raj, In re (5) and Commissioner of
Income-tax v. Tika Ram & Sons (6). In the first two, expenditure to acquire
lands bearing certain salts in the earth, which could be converted into
potassium nitrate, sodium chloride or saltpeter, was regarded as revenue
expenditure. They follow the line of reasoning which the same Court adopted in
the Full Bench case of Benarsidas (7), which we have considered in detail
earlier. They involved short-term contracts, and in the Full Bench case it was
stated that the case of long-term leases was on a different footing, though, in
our opinion, the decisive factors in such cases will be the nature of the
acquisition and the reason for the payment. Cases on the other side-of the line
where payments were regarded as capital expenditure are Commissioner of
Income-tax v. Chengalroya Mudaliar (8) and Chengalvaroya Chettiar v.
Commissioner of Income-tax (9).
There the expenditure was for a lease for
excavation of lime shells. Since the lease conferred exclusive privilege and a
new business regarded not as the right to win shells.
(1)  4 I.T.R. 104.
(3) (1949) 17 I.T.R. 545.
(5)  14 I.T.R. 181.
(7)  15 I.T.R. 185.
(2)  18 I.T.R. 403.
(4)  13 I.T.R. 157.
(6)  5 I.T.R. 544.
(8)  I.L.R. 58 Mad. 1.
(9)  5 I.T.R. 70.
713 All these cases turned on different
facts, and it is not necessary to decide which of them in the special
circumstances were correctly decided. This enquiry will hardly help in the
solution of the case in hand. We are, however, satisfied that in this case the
assessee acquired by his long-term lease a right to win stones, and the leases
conveyed to him a part of land. The stones in situ were not his stock-in-trade
in a business sense but a capital asset from which after extraction he converted
the stones into his stock-in-trade. The payment, though periodic in fact, was
neither rent nor royalty but a lump payment in installments for acquiring a
capital asset of enduring benefit to his trade. In this view of the matter, the
High Court was right in treating the outgoings as on capital account.
In the result, the appeal fails, and will be
dismissed with costs.
BY COURT: In accordance with the majority
judgment of the Court, the appeal is dismissed with costs.