India: Delhi High Court Differs With Bombay High Court To Allow Cenvat Credit On Transmission Towers

The Delhi High Court, vide its judgment in the case of Vodafone Mobile Services Limited v Commissioner of Service Tax, Delhi (2018-VIL-506-DEL-CE), dated 31 October 2018 has allowed CENVAT credit on telecom towers and related shelters, accessories, etc., thereby taking a contradictory position to that of the Bombay High Court's judgment in Bharti Airtel Limited v Commissioner of Central Excise (2014 (35) STR 865 (Bom)) (Bharti Airtel).


The petitioners are telecom operators. They availed CENVAT credit of central excise duty paid on telecom towers, parts thereof, and shelters / pre-fabricated buildings which house transmission equipment used for providing cellular telephone services.

The revenue authorities disputed the availment of the credit on the ground that the telecom towers and shelters were immoveable in nature and consequently did not qualify as 'input', as defined under the CENVAT Credit Rules, 2004 (CCR). Further, the said goods did not fall within the specified tariff heading and therefore did not qualify as 'capital goods', as defined under CCR. Consequently, the revenue authorities contended that the said goods were neither inputs nor capital goods and hence, no CENVAT credit could be allowed in such cases.

In Bharti Airtel, Bombay High Court had disallowed credit on telecom towers, holding them to be immoveable property. In the case of Tower Vision India Pvt Ltd v Commissioner of Central Excise (Adj), New Delhi & Ors (2016 (42) STR 249 (Tri.-LB)), the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal relied on Bharati Airtel when it disallowed credit on telecom towers to telecom infrastructure companies renting out such towers to telecom companies.


On the question of telecom tower as immoveable property:


The 'permanency test', as established by the Supreme Court in the case of Commissioner of Central Excise, Ahmedabad v Solid and Correct Engineering Works & Ors (2010 (5) SCC 122) (Solid and Engineering Works), is to be used to determine whether the equipment qualifies as immoveable property or not. If the machinery or equipment is permanently fastened or embedded to the earth, it qualifies as immoveable property. However, if the machine is fastened merely to provide a 'wobble free operation', it would not qualify as immoveable property


In the present case, the entire tower and shelter is fabricated in the factory of the manufacturer and is supplied in a Completely Knocked Down (CKD) form. The equipment is fastened to the civil foundation for a 'wobble free operation' and to provide greater stability. A fixation which does not involve assimilation of the property and is necessary for a 'wobble free operation' cannot be considered as an immovable property by applying 'permanency test'.


The tower / shelter may be unbolted and reassembled without any damage to any other location. There is no intent to annex the equipment to the earth permanently for the beneficial enjoyment of the land owner.

On the question of the tower as capital goods:


'Capital goods' are the goods under specified Tariff headings or parts, components, spares or accessories thereof. 'Base Transmission System' (BTS), which enables the telecom company to transmit mobile signals and thereby render telecom services, falls under Chapter 85 of the Tariff and therefore qualifies as capital goods.


Telecom towers and shelters support the BTS in effective transmission of mobile signals and enhance their efficiency. Hence, such equipment qualifies as an accessory of BTS and consequently qualifies as capital goods.

Nexus with output service


The term 'used for' has to be understood in a wider sense to include active as well as passive use. Mild Steel (MS) angles and channels are used to make towers which are in turn used for providing infrastructure support service / telecom service, thus the nexus test is satisfied.


The Bombay High Court decision in the case of Bharti Airtel is based on the same set of facts and law. The Delhi High Court noted that the said Bombay High Court decision, which is pending appeal before the Supreme Court, is contrary to the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Solid and Engineering Works). In view of the contradictory decisions it appears, that dispute will be finally resolved by the Supreme Court when it decides the appeal against Bharati Airtel

The content of this document do not necessarily reflect the views/position of Khaitan & Co but remain solely those of the author(s). For any further queries or follow up please contact Khaitan & Co at

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Sign Up
Gain free access to lawyers expertise from more than 250 countries.
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Newsalert
Select Topics
Select Regions
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions