Agreeing to grant easement rights to original owner is service, taxable @18% GST

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The Tamil Nadu Authority for Advance Ruling (AAR) has held that agreeing to grant easement rights is a service and hence attracts goods and services tax (GST) at the rate of 18%.

The case concerned Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) that acquired a portion of property for public purpose from an individual. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) entered between it and the owner contained a specific clause that stated that the owner will be entitled to use a passage way (out of the part which was sold to CMRL).

The pathway was leased to the owner for 35 years for a consideration. CMRL sought an advance ruling on whether GST shall be charged for leasing the pathway to grant access to the original owner.

In this particular case, the land of 2500 sq ft was acquired from an individual by CMRL under the Land Acquisition Act. Out of the 2500 sq ft land, 452sq ft was leased out to the original owner to be used as common access road to be used by CMRL and the individual in terms of an MOU in which it was agreed that a net amount of ₹4 crore along with lease right to use (easement rights) the land of 452 sq ft as road will be given to the individual.

It is clear that this right of use of the ‘pathway’ granted to the lessee for a fixed period for an amount qualifies the definition of ‘easement’ of the land owned by the applicant as per Section 4 of Indian Easement Act, 1882, it is seen that in the course of business of the applicant i.e constructing the metro station, the applicant has given easement rights to the land measuring 452 sqft to the individual for an amount agreed, ₹60,40,980, in the MOU which is the consideration here.

The transaction of granting easement rights satisfies the conditions of Section 7(1)(a) as a ‘supply’ under CGST/TNGST Act. Under the Act, the expression ‘supply’ includes all forms of supply of goods or services or both such as sale, transfer, barter, exchange, licence, rental, lease or disposal made or agreed to be made for a consideration by a person in the course or furtherance of business; import of services for a consideration whether or not in the course or furtherance of business.

It is ruled that, the act of agreeing to grant easement rights of the pathway by CMRL to the original owner by way of shared access as per the MOU was classifiable under SAC 999794 and taxable under GST at 18% GST.

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