Case Law: Nortel Networks India International Inc vs. DIT (Delhi High Court)

Important principles laid down whether profits arising from off-shore supply of goods can be taxed in India on basis that (a) the goods continued in the possession of seller till acceptance of the goods by buyer in India, (b) the seller had a liaison office in India, (c) the seller had a wholly-owned subsidiary in India which negotiated contacts with the buyer, (d) installation, commissioning etc services were provided in India etc

The controversy whether the Assessee has a PE in India is interlinked to the finding that Nortel India had discharged some of the obligations of the Assessee under the Equipment Contract. Whilst, the Income Tax Authorities have held that the contracts entered into with Reliance – the Equipment Contact, Software Contract and Services Contract – are essentially a part of the singular turnkey contract, the Assessee contends to the contrary. Further, the Income Tax Authorities have held that a part of the Equipment Contract assigned to the Assessee was, in fact, performed by Nortel India. This too, is stoutly disputed by the Assessee. The question whether the Assessee has a PE in India is clearly interlinked with the issue whether Nortel India or Nortel LO had performed any of the functions or discharged any of the obligations assumed by the Assessee. Assessee argued that agreement for supply of hardware (Equipment Contract) could have been directly executed between Reliance and the Assessee but owing to relaince’s insistence on an Indian company being responsible for the entire works, agreements were executed between Nortel India and Reliance, with Nortel Canada as a surety.

Nortel Networks India International Inc vs. DIT (Delhi High Court)

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