The Madras High Court reserved its verdict on a writ petition filed by Vijay, the Tamil actor, seeking to strike out the scathing remarks made against him by a single judge of the court during the hearing of his car’s tax exemption case in July, as per The Hindu.
The case traces back to 2012 when the actor had filed the petition with the Madras High Court seeking exemption from entry tax for his Rolls Royce Ghost car, which was imported from England.
His writ petition was admitted with a rider to pay 20% of the tax, and Vijay had complied with the interim order, the actor’s counsel said during the hearing on Monday.
He further added that in 2017, following a Supreme Court ruling that state governments were entitled to levy an entry tax, the Madras High Court began dismissing all pending writ petitions in connection with the issue with simple instructions to remit the full tax amount. However, the court made an exception in Vijay’s case and the single judge’s strongly-worded order criticised the actor for not mentioning his profession on the petition.
During the hearing on Monday, Vijay’s counsel argued that the petitioner’s profession was irrelevant to the matter at hand. “When I import a car, my profession has nothing to do with it. Whether I am a lawyer or doctor, it doesn’t matter,” he said.
While dismissing the actor’s plea, the single judge had also stated that Vijay being a “reputed cine actor” was expected to pay the tax “promptly and punctually.”
The order also said, “Tax evasion is to be construed as an anti-national habit, attitude and mindset, and is unconstitutional.”
Vijay’s counsel contended that the remarks made against the actor by the judge were unjustified and portrayed him as well as the entire film industry as anti-national and full of tax evaders.
The lawyer further argued that there was no tax evasion in this case and the actor had only exercised his constitutional right to challenge the levy of tax, like all others.
Vijay’s counsel also mentioned that the actor has now paid the tax in full – a sum of Rs 40 lakh.
Stating that the actor had done nothing deserving of such remarks from the court, the lawyer added, “All he did was to engage a lawyer and file a case. It hurts when a court paints as if he is some sort of a criminal. He has not done anything to deserve this.”
“I don’t think it is for the courts to decide whether a rich person should buy a car or a bungalow. There are people who buy aircrafts. Therefore, this kind of philosophy is not for court to make,” Vijay’s counsel added.
The lawyer also urged the court to set aside the Rs 1 lakh costs the single judge had imposed on the actor. Vijay had been directed to pay the amount to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund.
After hearing all arguments, the court reserved its judgment in the matter.