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ACIT vs. Bilakhia Holdings P. Ltd (ITAT Ahmedabad)
June, 06th 2014

A transfer of shares under a family arrangement is for a determinable “consideration” & is not “voluntary”. Consequently, the shares are not received under a “gift” & the transferee cannot claim benefit of cost, and holding period, of the transferor

The members of the Bilakhia family entered into a deed of family arrangement with a view to consolidate and equalize values of the assets held by each of the parties. Pursuance to the said family arrangement, the family members transferred the shares of Nestle India Ltd and Hindustan Lever Ltd held by them as investment to the assessee, an investment company in which the individual members of the family had equal interest. The assessee sold the shares and claimed that as it had acquired the shares vide a “gift”, in computing the capital gain, the cost of acquisition of the shares to, and the period of holding by, the transferors, had to be considered. The AO rejected the claim though the CIT(A) accepted it. On appeal by the department to the Tribunal HELD allowing the appeal:

(i) On the issue as to whether the shares received on family arrangement is pursuant to a “gift”, s. 122 of the Transfer of Property Act 1882 provides that a transfer of moveable or immovable property can be treated as a gift only if the same is made voluntarily and without any consideration. It cannot be said that a family arrangement is “without consideration”. In CWT vs. HH Vijayaba, Dowgner Maharani Saheb of Bhavnagar Palace 117 ITR 784 (SC) it was held that a family settlement or family arrangement which is to buy peace is for good consideration and creates an enforceable agreement between the parties. Consequently it cannot be said that a family arrangement is without consideration and a “gift”;

(ii) On the issue as to whether this consideration can be measured in money or monies worth, the purpose of the family arrangement was to equalize the holdings between the respective families of three brothers. Therefore, it cannot be said that consideration for transfer of shares cannot be measured in terms of money or monies worth. The equalization of wealth has only monetary connotation. To avoid disputes cannot be said to be without monetary consideration as it is common knowledge that family disputes ruin the family financially. The family disputes are being settled in monetary terms by resorting to arbitration and in case such settlements is not done, matter travels to the court and the family suffers heavily not only mentally but also financially. Thus, it cannot be said that the consideration for transfer of shares was not for monetary consideration;

(iii) On the issue as to whether the receipt of shares under the family arrangement was “voluntary” or not, the term “voluntary” is defined to mean “free choice; done with free will; without any compulsion ..”. The family arrangement cannot be said to be voluntary because it was enforceable and binding on the parties and with the purpose of equalization of wealth of the family members, which had monetary connotation.

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