The Madras High Court has dismissed a writ petition filed by actor Joseph Vijay in 2012, seeking exemption of Entry Tax for his Rolls Royce Ghost car, imported from England. It has also imposed a cost of ₹1 lakh to be paid by him to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund.
Justice S.M. Subramaniam came down heavily on “reel heroes” for avoiding payment of taxes and highlighted how important this revenue was for building infrastructure. He also criticised Mr. Vijay for not having even disclosed his occupation in the affidavit filed in support of his case.
“It is surprising to note that the petitioner has not even stated his profession or occupation in his affidavit. He has imported a prestigious costly car from England but unfortunately, not paid entry tax as per the statutes. He has filed a writ petition to avoid payment of tax… The petitioner, who is a reputed cine actor, is expected to pay the tax promptly and punctually,” the judge said.
The judge went on to state that it was essential for every citizen to remit taxes dutifully to the government and that such payment was a mandatory contribution and not a voluntary payment or donation. Taxes help the State construct schools, hospitals, housing projects for the poor and railways, ports and so on for all, he added.
The judge pointed out that Mr. Vijay has a large fan base and those fans consider actors such as him him, real heroes. “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. Tax evasion is to be construed as an anti-national habit, attitude and mindset and unconstitutional,” he observed.
Lamenting the stark difference between roles portrayed by the actors on the silver screen and their true character in real life, Justice Subramaniam said: “These actors portray themselves as champions of social justice. Their movies are against corrupt activities in the society. But, they are evading tax and acting in a manner which is not in consonance with the provisions of the Statutes.”
The constitutional goal of social justice as enshrined in the preamble of the Constitution and the spirit of Article 38 (2) (minimising inequalities) could be achieved only if people of stature pay taxes punctually and act as real heroes in their life. A person paying tax punctually and promptly must be considered as a real hero, the judge wrote.
“Filing a writ petition, avoiding payment of Entry tax and keeping the writ petition pending for about nine years, can never be appreciated and it is not made clear even now, whether the Entry tax as applicable has been paid by the petitioner or not. On account of efflux of time, the learned counsel for the petitioner also has not stated anything regarding this,” the court said.
The judge went on to state: “Even philosophically, accumulation of wealth or possessing the world’s prestigious car would not be of no assistance for a better life in our great nation, as our country is enriched with culture and social values… 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.”