Law has to be given effect in Cairn, Vodafone international arbitration cases

New Delhi, Feb 02 (PTI):
The government is “examining” the recent international tribunal order passed against India in the high-profile Cairn Energy plc retrospective tax case as CBDT chairman PC Mody said the law in force at that point of time has to been given full effect to.
He said while the government has filed an appeal after a similar verdict was delivered against the country in the Vodafone case, it will soon come out with its decision to go in for an appeal or not in the Cairn case.
“We have already taken a decision in the case of Vodafone to go in for a further appeal. So far as Cairn is concerned, we are examining the issue and very soon we will come out with a decision on that,” the CBDT chief told PTI during an interaction.
He was asked if the ground of ‘taxation being a sovereign function of the government’ was used to file an appeal by India in the Vodafone case.
“Apart from sovereign function, that (retrospective taxation) was the law at that point of time…so that has to be carried out or given full effect to,” he said. The Central Board of Direct Taxes frames policy for the Income Tax Department.
India, in December last year, has been ordered to return up to USD 1.4 billion to Cairn Energy of the UK after the government lost an international arbitration over the retrospective levy of taxes. The three-member tribunal, which also comprised a nominee of the Indian government, unanimously ruled that India’s claim of Rs 10,247 crore in past taxes over a 2006-07 internal reorganisation of Cairn’s India business was not a valid demand. The tribunal ordered the government to return the value of shares it had sold, dividends seized and tax refunds withheld to recover the tax demand. Few months earlier, British telecom giant Vodafone Group plc had similarly won an arbitration against the Indian government over a demand for Rs 22,100 crore in taxes using retrospective legislation.India has challenged this verdict before a court in Singapore.
The Income Tax Department had stated that Vodafone’s USD 11-billion acquisition of 67 per cent stake in the mobile phone business owned by Hutchison Whampoa in 2007 was designed to avoid capital gain tax in India and imposed a tax demand, which was rejected by the Supreme Court in 2012.

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