The terms ÁÖnderwriting’ and ÁÖnderwriter’ as provided in the Finance Act, 1994 and further defined in the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Underwriters) Rules, 1993, pertain to dealing in securities of a body corporate. In other words, service tax is leviable on underwriting only when the securities of a body corporate are underwritten.
Though the Government securities are issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which is a 'body corporate' in terms of section 3(2) of the RBI Act, 1934, Government securities are not securities of a body corporate as the Government securities are sovereign securities having zero default risk and RBI only manages the issue as also the auction of Government Securities on behalf of the Government of India.
The Primary Dealers registered with the RBI (as opposed to registration with the Securities Exchange Board of India) deal in Government Securities, issued by the RBI on behalf of the Government of India, as a part of the central Government's market borrowing program.
Therefore, it has been clarified that service tax liability does not arise on Underwriting Fee or Underwriting Commission received by the Primary Dealers during the course of the dealing in Government Securities.
[Circular No.126/08/2010 ST dated 10.08.2010]