25 Jan 2022 9:38 AM GMT
In an appeal filed by Actor Vijay to remove the scathing remarks made by the single judge bench while dismissing his petition for tax exemption on a Rolls Royce Ghost Motor Car, Madras High Court has expunged the observations made by single judge bench in paras 3,4,7,8, 11 and 12 of the original order.Today, a Division Bench of Justices Pushpa Sathyanarayana and Mohammed Shaffiq allowed the...
In an appeal filed by Actor Vijay to remove the scathing remarks made by the single judge bench while dismissing his petition for tax exemption on a Rolls Royce Ghost Motor Car, Madras High Court has expunged the observations made by single judge bench in paras 3,4,7,8, 11 and 12 of the original order.
Today, a Division Bench of Justices Pushpa Sathyanarayana and Mohammed Shaffiq allowed the writ appeal filed by Actor Vijay and disposed off the connected miscellaneous petition with no costs.
The actor was challenging the order passed by a single bench of Justice SM Subramaniam on July 13, dismissing a writ petition filed by Vijay in 2012. In the judgment, the single bench had made observations to the effect that one becomes a 'real hero' by promptly paying tax. The single bench had also taken a dig at the actor by saying that while his reel life characters were preaching tax compliance, in real life he was seeking exemption.
"Tax evasion is to be construed as an anti-national habit, attitude and mindset and unconstitutional. These Actors are portraying themselves as champions to bring social justice in society. Their pictures are against corrupt activities in society. But, they are evading Tax and acting in a manner, which is not in consonance with the provisions of the Statutes", the single bench had said in the previous order.
"The charm and dignity of a judge get enhanced by sobriety, restrain, grace and concern for the cause of justice - EGO (Edging God Out).
"Real strength of the judiciary lies in public faith and not in its contempt jurisdiction to punish a person", the court quotes at the inception of the judgment.
Referring to certain judgments with regard to the demand and collection of entry tax and the constitutionality of the same vis-a-vis Part XIII of the Constitution of India, the court examined in detail the trajectory before the final judgment by the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court in Jindal Stainless Limited and Another v. State of Haryana & Ors (2017) 12 SCC 1. About the nine-judge bench order, the court noted the question of whether the Entire State can be notified as a local area and whether entry tax can be levied on the goods entering into the land mass of India from another country was left open to be determined in appropriate proceedings. Thereafter, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court held that levy of Entry Tax even on imported goods/Vehicles are permissible after reversing a Kerala High Court judgment.
The court stated thus:
"The history of litigation has been set out in great detail only to show that there has been grave uncertainty not only with the reference to parameter/test to be applied for determining the question of validity of levy of Entry Tax, but also the question whether Entry Tax can be levied on imported goods stood resolved only by the decision of the Supreme Court in State of Kerala and Others v. Fr.William Fernandez Etc. reported in 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1791."
Noting that the appellant has paid the entry tax as demanded in the original court order, the division bench further goes on to note as follows:
"The order of the learned single Judge, wherein, certain disparaging remarks were made, appears to be wholly unwarranted, as there was uncertainty as to the state of law relating to Entry Tax and divergent views were expressed not only by the High Courts, but by the Supreme Court as well. Thus, to impute motives to a litigant or castigating him for taking a particular legal position or exercising his constitutional right under Article 226 is unwarranted. "
The court referred to the judgments in Teesta Setalvad & Anr. v. State of Gujarat & Ors, (2004) 10 SCC 88 and Dr.Dilip Kumar Deka & Anr. v. State of Assam & Anr. (1996) 6 SCC 234, the court underscored that there is no cogent proof that suggests the malafides or deliberate intention of the petitioner in the case.
"...the observation made by the learned single Judge, apart from being unwarranted, are irrelevant to decide the issue. The order of the writ Court also overlooks the fact that the view/stand taken by the petitioner, insofar as the leviability of entry tax on imported vehicles is the view taken by the Division Bench of Kerala High Court and also the Judgment of the Madras High Court and the matter was finally resolved by a Division Bench of the Hon'ble Supreme Court, after the Constitutional Bench of Nine Judges pronounced on the scope of Part XIII of the Constitution. The above sequence of litigation will clearly demonstrate that the appellant cannot be imputed with motive whatsoever and therefore, the disparaging remarks are clearly unwarranted, the court added in the judgment.
Vijay, in his appeal before the division bench, said that such remarks were wholly unjustified and uncalled for. In the appeal, Senior Counsel Vijay Narayan stated that the actor has been singled out and he has been subjected to scathing remarks when plenty of other cases involving costlier luxury cars were dismissed with single page orders. The counsel also contended that Vijay was branded as an 'anit-national' and the observations made by the Judge created negative publicity for the Actor.
"The non-payment of Entry tax by the petitioner can never be appreciated, and the petitioner has not respected nor responded to the lakhs and lakhs of his fans, who bas paid by viewing his movies and from and out of such money, the petitioner / Actor purchased the world's prestigious car for his personal usage. The reputed persons of this great nation should realize that the money reaches to them is from the poor man's blood and from their hard-earned money and not from the sky", the single judge bench had noted in the 13th July Order upholding entry tax imposition on the vehicle.
On 27th July, a division bench of Justices M Duraiswamy and R Hemalatha stayed Justice R. Subramaniam's judgment which had passed adverse observations against him.
Case Title: C. Joseph Vijay v. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors.
Case No: WA/1810/2021 (Tax/Tolls)
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 28
Appearance: For Appellant: Mr. Vijay Narayan, Senior Counsel for Mr.S.Kumaresan
For Respondent: Mr. .V.Nanmaran
Click Here To Read/ Download Judgment