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Nokia today suffered a jolt when the Supreme Court refused to lift the restraint on sale of its Indian assets, including the Chennai plant, as part of the handset maker's global deal with the Microsoft.
The apex court dismissed Nokia's plea against the Delhi High Court order directing its parent company in Finland to give an undertaking to fulfil the conditions relating to payment of tax dues.
The apex court's decision not to interfere with the High Court order assumes importance as it would put hurdles on Nokia to transfer its Chennai plant which is a part of the USD 7.2 billion global deal with Microsoft.
A bench, comprising justices A R Dave and Shiva Kirti Singh, declined to accept Nokia's plea for a direction to the Income Tax department for lifting of the stay on transfer of assets, including the Chennai manufacturing plant, in view of the deal with Microsoft.
The apex court had earlier asked the Nokia India Pvt Ltd to come up with a concrete proposal to settle its tax row with the income tax department.
The handset maker had said it would approach the tax authorities for their approval for the transfer of its assets to Microsoft along with final valuation of its Indian assets.
However, when the company submitted the report of internal valuation of its Chennai plant and not that of an expert, the bench disapproved it.
"This is no way. You should have got valuation report by an expert. We wanted to have some authentic valuation," the court observed.
Nokia's counsel submitted the projected tax demand is about Rs 21,000 crore.
The Income Tax department's counsel said the company was not fair with the court and had "not come to court with clean hands".
Solicitor General Mohan Prasaran said Nokia India had made no profits but it gave Rs 3,500 crore dividend to its parent company Nokia Corporation Finland by taking money from its reserves.
"There were no profits. Dividends were paid. Dividends were paid from reserves. It appears fishy," the bench observed.
Prasaran said the tax demand of Rs 2,649 crores was a determined demand. Besides this, Rs 10,149 crore tax demand was the barest minimum that would be raised and it was coupled with interest and liabilities.
Nokia's counsel Vikaas Srivastava contended the deal with Microsoft is expected to fructify in eight to ten months and it cannot be said at