'Not expected,' Madras HC tells Thalapathy Vijay for attempting tax-exemption
Tamil superstar Thalapathy Vijay had filed a writ petition in 2012, seeking exemption of Entry Tax for his luxury vehicle. The Rolls-Royce Ghost car was being imported from England. Dismissing this plea on July 8, Madras High Court schooled the actor for such an appeal. It also imposed a Rs. 1 lakh fine on Vijay, as per the order released on Tuesday.
Justice SM Subramaniam said fans see actors like Vijay "as real heroes," and hence they should not try to evade taxes. "Tax evasion is to be construed as an anti-national habit," the judge mentioned. Vijay was also criticized for not mentioning his occupation in affidavit. Notably, the fine has to be paid to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister's Public Relief Fund to fight COVID-19.
"In the state of Tamil Nadu, cine heroes have risen as rulers of the state and therefore, the people are under the impression that they are real heroes. Thus, they are not expected to behave like reel heroes," noted Justice SM Subramaniam.
Highlighting that paying taxes was a "mandatory contribution and not a voluntary payment or donation," the judge noted, "The petitioner, who is a reputed cine actor, is expected to pay the tax promptly and punctually." To justify his stand further, the judge also mentioned how taxes help states "construct schools, hospitals, housing projects for the poor and railways, ports and so on for all."
Cracking down on such pleas, the court commented upon the contrast between the roles actors play and their behavior in real life. They act as "champions of social justice" who fight "against corrupt activities in the society," he noted, but avoid taxes. "Filing a writ petition, avoiding payment of entry tax, keeping the writ petition pending for about nine years, can never be appreciated."
Further, the court has order the Master actor to complete his dues within two weeks, if not paid yet. For the unversed, the import tax is 20% of the cost of the car. In the past, when Sachin Tendulkar was granted Rs. 1.5cr import duty waiver for his Ferrari, it invited a lot of criticism. The luxury car was presented by racer Michael Schumacher.
"Sachin is a fine ambassador for the sport. This was not expected of him," Kishore Bhimani, veteran sports journalist and cricket commentator, had said of this incident. Even NGOs across the country had lashed out at the then Central government for this relaxation.