Difference between Service Rendered from India and in India:
Exemption to Income u/s 80-O of Income Tax Act, 1961.
The agreements of the appellant with the foreign entities primarily show that the appellant was to locate the source of supply of the referred merchandise and inform the principals; to keep liaison with the agencies carrying out organoleptic/bacteriological analysis and communicate the result of inspection; to make available to the foreign principals the analysis of seafood supply situation and prices; and to keep the foreign principals informed of the latest trends in the market and also to negotiate and finalise the prices. As per the agreements, in lieu of such services, the appellant was to receive the agreed commission on the invoice amounts.
In contrast to what has been observed in the cases of J.B. Boda &Co. (advising on the risk factor related to the proposed insurance/reinsurance) and E.P.W. Da Costa (dealing with statistical analysis of data collected), what turns out as regards the activities/services of the appellant is that the appellant was essentially to ensure supply of enough quantity of good quality merchandise in proper packing and at competitive prices to the satisfaction of the principals. This has essentially been the job of a procuring agent. Though the expressions “expert information and advice”, “analysis”, “technical guidance” etc., have been used in the agreements but, these expressions cannot be read out of context and de hors the purpose of the agreement. All the clauses of the agreements read together make it absolutely clear that the appellant was merely a procuring agent and it was his responsibility to ensure that proper goods are supplied in proper packing to the satisfaction of the principal. All other services or activities mentioned in the agreements were only incidental to its main functioning as agent. Significantly, the payment to the appellant, whatever label it might have carried, was only on the basis of the amount of invoice pertaining to the goods. There had not been any provision for any specific payment referable to the so-called analysis or technical guidance or advice. Viewed from any angle, the services of the appellant were nothing but of an agent, who was procuring the merchandise for its principals; and such services by the appellant, as agent, were rendered in India. Even if certain information was sent by the assessee to the principals, the information did not fall in the category of such professional services or information which could justify its claim for deduction under Section 80-O of the Act. In other words, in the holistic view of the terms of the agreements, we have not an iota of doubt that the appellant was only a procuring agent, as rightly described by the High Court. 33.If at all any doubt yet remains about the nature of services of the appellant, the same is effectively quelled by the default clauses in the agreements in question.