The Madras High Court on Monday reserved judgment on the plea by Tamil superstar Thalapathy Vijay that an adverse observation made by a single judge’s bench of the court against him be expunged from records.
Appearing for Vijay, former Tamil Nadu Advocate General, Vijay Narayan argued that the remarks made by the judge in July while dismissing the plea of the actor to exempt payment for his imported Rolls Royce Ghost were unjustified.
Counsel argued that the judge had made “wholly unjustified remarks” against Thalapathy Vijay and had even portrayed him, as well as the entire film industry, as “anti-national”.
A division bench of Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana and Justice Mohammed Shaffiq deferred their judgment after hearing the detailed arguments by Narayan.
He also argued that the importers of luxury cars had to pay customs duty to the Centre and after some state governments also commenced demanding entry taxes, many of these importers approached various high courts of the country.
Thalapathy Vijay was one such litigant before the Madras High Court, and when the single judge’s bench directed him to pay 20 percent of the tax, he had complied with the interim order and paid the amount.
Counsel noted that after the Supreme Court, in 2017, ruled that state governments were entitled to entry tax, the petitions filed by other importers were dismissed with a directive to pay the full tax, but the single judge’s bench came down heavily on the actor.
With the actor primarily criticized by the judge for not disclosing his professional identity, Narayan argued that there was no need to disclose the identity when a person was importing a car and that whether the importer is a doctor, actor, or a lawyer does not matter.
He also said that the single judge had portrayed the entire film industry in a bad light as if it was full of tax-evaders.
He said that the actor had paid the balance 80 percent of the tax amount, which amounts to Rs 32.30 lakh, by demand draft in August 2021.
The bench was informed that the single judge’s bench had made similar comments while disposing of a 2015 writ petition filed by superstar Dhanush against the demand of entry tax for a similar Rolls Royce Ghost imported by him in 2015.
Narayan said: “I don’t think that it is for the courts to decide whether a rich person should buy a car or a bungalow. There are people who buy aircraft. Therefore this kind of philosophy is not for the court to make.”
As Justice Satyanarayana asked counsel whether efforts were taken to request the single judge to expunge remarks, the counsel replied in the negative. He also cited Supreme Court remarks against such unwarranted comments by the courts against litigants.
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