The Madras High Court on Thursday disposed of a writ petition filed by actor Dhanush in 2015 seeking tax exemption for his imported car and directed him to pay the pending tax within 48 hours, Bar and Bench reported.
Dhanush had approached the court in 2015 after he faced issues when trying to register his Rolls Royce Ghost car imported from the UK. The Regional Transport Officer had asked him to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Commercial Tax Department before registering his car. The tax department, however, had insisted upon the payment of ₹60.66 lakh as entry tax before it would issue the NOC.
The actor then filed a writ petition at the Madras High Court seeking exemption of that entry tax. An interim order in the case was passed on October 26, 2015, directing the RTO to register the actor’s car on condition that he deposit 50% of the tax amount within two weeks. Later, the time limit was extended and Dhanush paid the specified amount on November 18, 2015. The judge then directed the RTO on April 27, 2016, to register the vehicle following the usual terms and conditions.
The plea, which was pending for all these years, came up for hearing on Thursday.
During the hearing, the actor’s counsel said Dhanush was willing to pay the remaining tax by Monday and wanted to withdraw the 2015 writ petition. However, Justice SM Subramaniam refused to withdraw the petition immediately and queried why the actor had not paid the tax due earlier and withdrawn the petition, especially since the Supreme Court had settled the issue years earlier. The judge noted that the actor had also not mentioned his profession in his petition.
Justice Subramaniam also added that while the actor is free to purchase imported luxury cars, he must pay the tax applicable once he has brought the car to India. This is a constitutional duty that he is expected to abide by, the judge said. He thus rejected the relief sought in the plea and directed that the pending tax be paid within 48 hours.
The judge also informed in open court that he has added certain observations in the final order on the responsibility of a litigant to appear before the court. The case was earlier listed before the court on Tuesday but no one appeared on behalf of Dhanush at the time leading to the case being relisted for Thursday.
The judge observed that it is not right to selectively pursue litigation, depending on whether favourable interim orders are received or not and to keep such matters pending unnecessarily when courts are already overburdened and have more important issues to decide.
It may be noted that Justice Subramaniam, who ruled in Dhanush’s plea, had earlier dismissed a similar plea filed by actor Vijay seeking entry tax exemption for his imported Rolls Royce Ghost car by passing an order with highly critical remarks. Justice Subramaniam’s order, which noted that “tax evasion is to be construed as an anti-national habit, attitude and mindset,” was later stayed by the Madras High Court on July 27 after it was challenged by the actor.