03 八月 2022

No service tax on composite works contract prior to 2007 changes – Apex Court rejects plea to reconsider decision in Larsen and Toubro Ltd.

The Supreme Court has reiterated that service tax could not be levied on the service portion of the indivisible/composite works contracts prior to the introduction of the Finance Act, 2007, by which the Finance Act, 1994 came to be amended to introduce Section 65(105)(zzzza) pertaining to works contracts.

The Apex Court in this regard rejected the prayer of the Revenue Department to re-consider the decision of Supreme Court in the case of Larsen and Toubro Limited [(2016) 1 SCC 170] and refer the matter to the Larger Bench.

The Court noted that the decisions of the various High Courts and the Tribunals, which were passed after following the decision the Larsen and Toubro Limited decision have attained finality and in many cases the Revenue had not challenged the said decisions. It also noted that no efforts were made by the Revenue to file any review application to review and/or recall the said judgment.

The Supreme Court in Total Environment Building Systems Pvt. Ltd. v. Deputy Commissioner [Judgement dated 2 August 2022] also observed that relevance and significance of the principle of stare decisis must be kept in mind and that in law, certainty, consistency and continuity are highly desirable features.

The Court for this purpose relied upon decision in the case of Dr. Shah Faesal and Ors. v. Union of India and Anr. [(2020) 4 SCC 1] and reiterated that doctrines of precedents and stare decisis are the core values of our legal system.

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