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April 14, 2022

GST to be levied on Liquidated damages for delay in performance of contract

by CA Shivam Jaiswal in GST

GST to be levied on Liquidated damages for delay in performance of contract

Facts and issue of the case

M/s. Singareni Collieries Company Limited is entering into contracts with a host of vendors/suppliers for extraction of coal. The applicant is also recovering liquidated damages for lapses on the part of supplier of service. The applicant is desirous of ascertaining whether such liquidated damages/penalties constitute consideration exigible to tax under the scheme of GST. Therefore this application.

Questions raised:

Whether, in the facts and circumstances of the case, liquidated damages/penalties received by the applicant can be said to be for any ‘supply’ under the Central Goods and Services Act, 2017, thereby attracting the levy of ‘GST’ or should be treated as price adjustment to the main supply?

Observation of the Court

Penalties and Liquidated damages are demanded by the applicant from their contractors on lapses in performance of the contract including delays, under performance with respect to targeted extraction and breach of terms of the contract.

When the parties to a contract specify the time for its performance, it is expected that either party will perform his obligation at the stipulated time. But if one of them fails to do so, the question arises what is the effect upon the contract. This scenario is answered by Section 55 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, which is extracted below:

“Effect of failure to perform at fixed time, in contract in which time is essential-When a party to a contract promises to do a certain thing at or before a specified time, or certain things at or before specified times, and fails to do any such thing at or before the specified time, the contract, or so much of it as has not been performed, becomes voidable at the option of the promisee if the intention of the parties was that time should be of the essence of the contract.

Effect of such failure when time is not essential.-If it was not the inten son of the parties that time should be of the essence of the contract, the con tact does not become voidable by the failure to do such thing at or before the specified time; but the promisee is entitled to compensation from the promisor for any loss occasioned to him by such failure.

Effect of acceptance of performance at time other than that agreed upon-If, in case of a contract voidable on account of the promisor’s failure to perform his promise at the time agreed, the promisee accepts performance of such promise at any time other than that agreed, the promisee cannot claim compensation for any loss occasioned by the non-performance of the promise at the time agreed, unless, at the time of such acceptance, he gives notice to the promisor of his intention to do so”.

A combined reading of the provisions (1) & (3) of Section 55 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 reveals that a failure to perform the contract at the agreed time renders it voidable at the option of the opposite party and alternatively such party can recover compensation for such loss occasioned by non-performance.

Similarly Section 73 & 74 of the Indian Contract Act enables recipient of supplies under a contract to be compensated with damages for breach of any provision of the contract.

In the present case, Liquidated damages are claimed by the applicant from the contractor due to the delay in performance of the contract, beyond the date prescribed in such contract by the contractor. Similarly, penalties are fixed for breach of the provisions of the contract. These amounts are consideration for tolerating an act or a situation arising out of the contractual obligation. The entry in 5(e) of Schedule II to the CGST Act classifies this act of forbearance as follows:

5(e): Agreeing to the obligation to refrain from an act, or tolerate an act, or a situation, or to do an act.

Further Section 2(31)(b) of the CGST Act mentions that consideration in relation to the supply of goods or services or both includes the monetary value of an act of forbearance. Therefore such a toleration of an act or a situation under an agreement constitutes supply of service and the consideration or monetary value is exigible to tax.

The Consideration received for such forbearace is taxable under CGST and SGST @9% each under the chapter head 9997 at serial no. 35 of Notification No.11/2017- Central/State tax rate.


Court Concluded that Liquidated damages and penalties received by the applicant due to breach of conditions of the contract from the contractor are eligible to tax under CGST and SGST Acts.


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