The Delhi High Court has directed the government/GST authorities to refund IGST of Rs 7.12 crore to Vodafone Idea that was paid on the export of international roaming and long-distance services.
The key issue before the court was whether the telecom services provided by the petitioner (Vodafone Idea) to inbound subscribers of Foreign Telecom Operators (FTOs) constitute export of services and whether its claims were within the period of limitation as specified under Section 54(1) of the CGST Act.
The court said these services, rendered to foreign telecom operators for their subscribers during their visit to India, will be treated as export of services when (a) the provider of service is located in the taxable territory, (b) the recipient of the service is located outside India, and (d) the place of provision of the service is outside India.
“There is no cavil that the decisions rendered on the question of export of services in the context of Rule 3 of the Export of Services Rules, 2005 (Export without payment of service tax) are also applicable to the controversy in question,” a Division Bench of Justices Vibhu Bakru and Amit Mahajan said.
The court also said it is not disputed that the Customs Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) has in several cases, following the aforesaid decision, allowed the appeals preferred by the petitioner and directed the refund.
On the issue of limitation, the court said the controversy whether the petitioner had made the claims within the period of limitation is no longer a contentious issue.
“In view of the above, the present petition is allowed and the respondents are directed to refund the amounts as claimed by the petitioner,” the court said.
Speaking on the issue, counsel, who represented Vodafone in the case, said, “The High Court has laid down that international inbound roaming services and international long-distance services to foreign telecom operators by virtue of the International Roaming Agreement are export of services and are therefore a zero-rated supply.”