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Intermediary cannot be considered as exporter of services as he is only a broker who arranges and facilitate the supply of goods or services or both: Says High Court 

High Court says provision of Section 13(8)(b) r.w. Section 2(13) of the IGST Act are not ultra vires or unconstitutional in any manner.

There is no distinction between the intermediary services provided by a person in India or outside India. Only because, the invoices are raised on the person outside India with regard to the commission and foreign exchange is received in India, it would not qualify to be export of services, more particularly when the legislature has thought it fit to consider the place of supply of services as place of person who provides such service in India.

Clause 2 of Article 246A empowers the parliament, who has exclusive power to make laws with respect to goods and services tax where the supply of goods or of services or both takes place in the course of inter State trade or commerce.

Facts of Case

Present writ involves question whether the provisions of Section 13(8)(b) r.w.s. 2(13) and 8(1) of the IGST Act,2017 are ultra vires and unconstitutional or not.

Petitioner provides intermediary services to foreign principal for a consideration of commission recievable in foreign exchange. The foreign principal supplies goods in India as well as outside India.

Petitioner submitted that Section 13(8)(b) of the IGST Act,2017 provides that in case of supply of intermediary service, the services are deemed to have been supplied at the location of the supplier. Therefore, the question which arises for consideration is whether the service rendered by the members of the petitioner association is an intermediary service or export of service.

Relying upon the above provision of clause 1 of Article 28, petitioner argued that parliament is not authorized to legislate and artificially assign the place of supply to be within India when clearly the services are being exported out of India. Petitioner submitted that the State has no jurisdiction to impose tax when the supply takes place outside the State. Petitioner further submitted that Section 13(8)(b) of the IGST,2017 is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India as it renders differential treatment when services supplied within territory of India and when supplied outside the territory of India.

Held by High Court

The introduction of Goods and Service Tax in India in the year 2017 is with an object of providing one tax for one nation so as to harmonize the indirect tax structure in the country. For the said purpose, the Constitution is amended by the Constitution (One Hundred First Amendment) Act, 2016 to bring on to introduce Article 246A which provides for special provision with respect to Goods and Service Tax. Article 246A begins with non-obstante clause stipulating that notwithstanding anything contained in Articles 246 and 254, the parliament subject to Clause-2, Legislature of every State, have power to make laws with respect to Goods and Service Tax imposed by the Union or by such State. Clause 2 of Article 246A empowers the parliament, who has exclusive power to make laws with respect to goods and services tax where the supply of goods or of services or both takes place in the course of inter State trade or commerce. Thus, the parliament has exclusive power under Article 246A to frame laws for inter State supply of goods of services. 

Section 13(8)(b) refers to place of supply of the services shall be the location of supplier of services in case of intermediary services. Intermediary services is defined in Section 2(13) of IGST Act, 2017 which means a broker, an agent or any other person, by whatever name called, who arranges or facilitates the supply of goods or services or both, or securities, between two or more persons, but does not include a person who supplies such goods or services or both or securities on his own account.

The petitioner has tried to submit that the services provided by a broker outside India by way of intermediary service should be considered as “export of services” but the legislature has thought it fit to consider such intermediary services; the place of supply would be the location of the supplier of the services. In that view of the matter, it would be necessary to refer to the definition of “export of services” as contained in Section 2(6) of the IGST Act, 2017 which provides that export of service means the place of service of supply outside India. Conjoint reading of Section 2(6) and 2(13), which defines export of service and intermediary service respectively, then the person who is intermediary cannot be considered as exporter of services because he is only a broker who arranges and facilitate the supply of goods or services or both. 

It therefore, appears that the basic logic or inception of section 13(8)(b) of the IGST Act,2017 considering the place of supply in case of intermediary to be the location of supply of service is in order to levy CGST and SGST and such intermediary service therefore, would be out of the purview of IGST. There is no distinction between the intermediary services provided by a person in India or outside India. Only because, the invoices are raised on the person outside India with regard to the commission and foreign exchange is received in India, it would not qualify to be export of services, more particularly when the legislature has thought it fit to consider the place of supply of services as place of person who provides such service in India.

Therefore, there is no deeming provision as tried to be canvassed by the petitioner, but there is stipulation by the Act legislated by the parliament to consider the location of the service provider of intermediary to be place of supply. Similar situation was also existing in service tax regime w.e.f. 1st October 2014 and as such same situation is continued in GST regime also. Therefore, this being a consistent stand of the respondents to tax the service provided by intermediary in India, the same cannot be treated as “export of services” under the IGST Act,2017 and therefore, rightly included in Section 13(8)(b) of the IGST Act to consider the location of supplier of service as place of supply so as to attract CGST and SGST.

The contentions raised on behalf of the petitioner are not tenable in view of the Notification No.20/2019 issued by the Government of India, Ministry of Finance whereby Entry no.12AA is inserted to provide Nil rate of tax granting exemption from payment of IGST for service provided by an intermediary when location of both supplier and recipient of goods is outside the taxable territory i.e. India. Therefore, the respondents have thought it fit to consider granting exemption to the intermediary services viz. service provider when the movement of goods is outside India.

In view of the foregoing reasons, it cannot be said that the provision of Section 13(8)(b) r.w. Section 2(13) of the IGST Act,2017 are ultra vires or unconstitutional in any manner.

 


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Published by

TaxReply

on Aug 6, 2020


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