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Dear Professional Colleagues,

Greetings of the Day !

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs issued Circular No. 214/1/2023-Service Tax dated February 28, 2023 regarding Leviability of Service Tax on the declared service “Agreeing to the obligation to refrain from an act, or to tolerate an act or a situation, or to do an act" under clause (e) of section 66E of the Finance Act, 1994 - reg.



An issue has arisen on the levy of service tax on liquidated damages arising out of breach of contract, forfeiture of salary or payment of bond amount in the event of the employee leaving the employment before the minimum agreed period and similar other issues arising out of clause (e) of section 66E of the Finance Act, 1994.

Reference has also been invited to Circular No. 178/10/2022-GST dated 3rd August, 2022 regarding the applicability of GST on liquidated damages, compensation and penalty arising out of breach of contract or other provisions of law, and its applicability to service tax-related issues.


As can be seen, the said expression has three limbs: - i) Agreeing to the obligation to refrain from an act, ii) Agreeing to the obligation to tolerate an act or a situation, iii) Agreeing to the obligation to do an act. Service of agreeing to the obligation to refrain from an act or to tolerate an act or a situation, or to do an act is nothing but a contractual agreement. A contract to do something or to abstain from doing something cannot be said to have taken place unless there are two parties, one of which expressly or impliedly agrees to do or abstain from doing something and the other agrees to pay consideration to the first party for doing or abstaining from such an act. Such contractual arrangement must be an independent arrangement in its own right. There must be a necessary and sufficient nexus between the supply (i.e. agreement to do or to abstain from doing something) and the consideration.


Issue before CESTAT

The issue also came up in the CESTAT in Appeal No. ST/ 50080 of 2019 in the case of M/s Dy. GM (Finance) Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd in which the hon’ble Tribunal relied on the judgement of divisional bench in case of M/s South Eastern Coal Fields Ltd Vs. CCE Raipur {2021(55) G.S.T.L 549(Tri-Del)}. Board has decided not to file appeal against the CESTAT order ST/A/50879/2022-CU[DB] dated 20.09.2022 in this case and also against Order A/85713/2022 dated 12.8.2022 in case of M/s Western Coalfields Ltd. Further, Board has decided not to pursue the Civil Appeals filed before the Apex Court in M/s South Eastern Coalfields Ltd. supra (CA No. 2372/2021), M/s Paradip Port Trust (Dy. No. 24419/2022 dated 08-08-2022), and M/s Neyveli Lignite Corporation Ltd (CA No. 0051-0053/2022) on this ground.


In case of South Eastern Coalfields Ltd, it was decided that the assessee  was  engaged  in  business  of  miningand selling of coal and it in terms of contract executed between it and buyers of coal and vendors received certain amount from buyers of coaland  vendors  towards  penalty,  earnest  money  deposit  forfeiture  and liquidated damages, since penal clauses in contract were in nature ofproviding  a  safeguard to  commercial  interest  of  assessee,  it  was  not possible to sustain view taken by Adjudicating Authority that aforesaid amount  had  been  received  by  assessee  towards  consideration  for tolerating an act leviable to service tax under section 66E(e).



It is clarified that the activities contemplated under section 66E(e), i.e. when one party agrees to refrain from an act, or to tolerate an act or a situation, or to do an act, are the activities where the agreement specifically refers to such an activity and there is a flow of consideration for this activity.

Field formations are advised that while taxability in each case shall depend on facts of the case, the guidelines discussed above and jurisprudence that has evolved over time, may be followed in determining whether service tax on an activity or transaction needs to be levied treating it as service by way of agreeing to the obligation to refrain from an act, or to tolerate an act or a situation, or to do an act. Contents of Circular No. 178/10/2022-GST dated 3 rd August, 2022, may also be referred to in this regard.

Hope you find it interesting and useful to read.

For any clarification/ feedback, feel free to write us at

Best regards,



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