Madras High Court raps Dhanush over entry tax petition on import of luxury car

Chennai: After top star Vijay, actor Dhanush on Thursday received Madras High Court rap for challenging Entry Tax on import of a luxury car, with the judge remarking that lesser earning individuals were promptly paying taxes and not knocking at the doors of the judiciary for possible relief.

Justice SM Subramaniam, who had earlier made some strong observations against Vijay for moving the court against levy of Entry Tax for his imported Rolls Royce Ghost car earlier, on Thursday directed Dhanush to pay a sum of Rs 30.30 lakh within 48 hours.

"You drive the luxury car on the roads laid using the taxpayers' money. Even a milk vendor and a daily wage labourer are paying taxes for every litre of petrol they buy. None of them approach the court seeking exemption from such taxes," the judge said.

After pulling up the national award-winning actor-producer for moving the Court challenging the imposition of entry tax for the import of his Rolls Royce Ghost car for Rs 2.15 crore from England in 2015, the judge directed Dhanush to pay Rs 30.30 lakh, the balance amount of the entry tax within 48 hours, to the Commercial Tax department.

Dhanush had paid half of the Rs 60.60 lakh of entry tax earlier.

The judge also directed the Registry to ensure that affidavits filed by the litigants in writ petitions are entertained on compliance of the requirements as contemplated under the 'Madras High Court Writ Rules, 2021'.

As Dhanush did not mention his profession in the column before filing the petition and left it blank, the judge gave this direction. "Dhanush had suppressed the fact", the judge remarked.

In the event of any lapses, negligence or dereliction on the part of the officials concerned, the Registrar-General of the High Court shall initiate appropriate action under the Service Rules in force, the judge added.

When the petition came up before the judge earlier in the morning, he rapped Dhanush for not paying the entry tax promptly, even after the Supreme Court had directed him to do so.

Possibly fearing being pulled up, like Vijay, Dhanush's counsel prayed for court's permission to withdraw his petition. The judge, however, refused to oblige.

The counsel told the judge Dhanush had already paid 50 per cent of the tax and now he was willing to pay the remainder.

Hence, he might be allowed to withdraw the petition, the counsel said, adding that he had filed necessary memo in this regard.

Rejecting the plea, the judge pointed out that the petition was pending since 2015.

"If your intentions are genuine, you should have paid the tax at least after the Supreme Court settled the issue in 2018. Now after the High Court listed the matter for orders, you are seeking to withdraw," the judge said.

"No doubt that it is your right to move the court. But you should have paid the tax and withdrawn the petition at least after the apex court had settled the issue in 2018," the court added.

The judge then directed the commercial tax officer concerned to be present in the court with a demand for the pending tax to be paid by the actor by afternoon.

In the afternoon, the judge recorded the demand notice from the CTO and passed the order.

Reminding duties of citizens not to be termed as exceeding limit: HC

Reminding the citizens of their duties by the High Court should not be termed as exceeding jurisdiction, Justice S M Subramaniam said on Thursday.

The judge made the observation today while disposing of a writ petition from actor K Dhanush challenging levy of 'entry tax' by the Commercial Tax department.

The judge was obviously referring to the action of actor Vijay, who had moved the High Court with an appeal challenging his July 13 judgement where he pulled up the leading star for not paying the entry tax for the import of his Rolls Royce Ghost car in 2012.

A division bench had earlier stayed the order, insofar as the adverse remarks against Vijay were concerned.

Passing orders on the writ petition from Dhanush today, the judge said a petitioner may raise a ground that claiming exemption from payment of tax is his right.

Undoubtedly, every citizen is entitled to claim his right, if he is of the opinion that his right is infringed.

However, while dealing with the rights of the citizen, the constitutional courts are bound to remind the duties of the citizen under the Constitution to protect the constitutional values and in the interest of the public at large.

When the duties are reminded upon to citizens, they cannot make a complaint that the court has exceeded its jurisdiction by unnecessarily penning down certain points, he said.

There exactly the principles of "Obiter dicta" come into assistance.

The "Obiter dicta" in a remarkable judgment, especially by the Apex Court, contributed for the March of law in India.

"Therefore, the importance of Obiter dicta in any judgment reminding the duties of the citizen or elaborating the constitutional principles and in order to protect the constitutional values and philosophies, can at no circumstances be undermined," the court said

The Obiter dicta as a part of the document is valuable ideas, perspectives, philosophies, visionaries of the Constitution, considered and delivered by the Courts with the assistance of the great lawyers and the judges, Justice Subramaniam said.

"The recent trend is to claim the right alone and forget duties. Such a mindset can never be encouraged. It is the duty of the constitutional courts to remind the citizens about their fundamental duties enunciated under the Constitution."

"When the rights and duties go together, the nation will flourish and reach the point of excellence in all spheres of individuals and the value of the rich heritage of our composite culture will be protected", the judge added.

The Constitutional Courts are not functioning to simply resolve the disputes by "saying 1+1=2."

Beyond resolving the issues between the parties, the extraordinary powers conferred under Article 226 is bound to be exercised by the High Courts, whenever an occasion comes for the development and March of law.

"Thus, such wonderful ideas, ideologies, theories, doctrines in numerous judgments by way of Obiter dicta became the law of this great Nation and contributed for the development of our Indian democracy," the judge said.

Every citizen of this great nation has a right to seek constitutional remedy.

But if any litigation is instituted, then the responsibility lies that the matter is to be pursued and in the event of finality of the disputed issues, actions are to be taken even on pending cases.

It is not as if a litigant can file a case and leave as it is and avoid payment of taxes, even after finality in respect of disputes.

Large number of unnecessary writ petitions are pending before the High Court either due to the non- cooperation of the litigants or on account of the fact that the interim orders are granted and such interim orders are being utilized for unjust gains.

Cars imported several years back are plying on the roads within the State without paying Entry Tax. Ultimate revenue loss undoubtedly would affect the public interest.

Thus, this Court is of the opinion that the constitutional perspectives and the manner in which the writ petitions are filed are to be dealt with for the interest of protecting the rights of the citizens, who are all approaching this Court for redressal of their genuine grievance, the judge added.

On importing a prestigious and luxury car From England, the purchaser is expected to pay the entry tax to the government as he is plying the vehicle on the roads across the State, which were laid from and out of the tax payers' money.

"Thus, reminding the fundamental duty of the citizen is the Constitutional duty of the High Court... this Court thought it fit to pass orders, making the citizen aware, for the benefit of the public at large and to remind that the citizens are bound to respect the fundamental duties enunciated under the Constitution of India," the judge concluded.

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