Tax exemption withdrawal plea of Actor Dhanush rejected by Madras HC
Fact and Issue of the case
The petitioner states that he has purchased one ROLLS ROYCE GHOST FK42 RHD, Diamond Colour car of United Kingdom origin and the port of loading was London. The vehicle has been manufactured by Rolls Royce Motor Cars Limited and the price of the vehicle is Rs.2,15,26,563/- and the petitioner has paid customs duty of Rs.2,69,79,860/-. The petitioner approached the 3rd respondent for the purpose of new registration of the imported vehicle and the 3rd respondent insisted the petitioner to submit ‘Entry Tax Clearance Certificate’ to be obtained from the 2nd respondent. When the petitioner approached the office of the 2nd respondent, the 2nd respondent insisted payment of Entry Tax in respect of the imported vehicle.
The petitioner states that he has paid the customs duty and therefore, no further tax is to be levied. Neither Sales Tax nor Entry Tax is levied for vehicles that are imported. The contention of the petitioner is that, the goods that are manufactured in India suffers payment of Excise Duty and the goods that are imported suffers Customs Duty. By questioning the levy of Entry Tax, the petitioner has prayed for an injunction restraining the respondents from collecting the Entry Tax in respect of the imported vehicle.
Observation of the Court
In the present writ petition, the petitioner has not shown his identity by mentioning his profession and other connected details and simply stated that petitioner has purchased a ROLLS ROYCE GHOST FK42 RHD, Diamond Colour car of United Kingdom origin and the port of loading was London. Thus, the petitioner has suppressed his identity by not revealing his profession and therefore, it has to be construed that the writ petition is filed without furnishing the requisite details, amounts to suppression of facts.
When the matter was called on 03.08.2021, none appeared and the case is posted today, i.e. on 05.08.2021 and the learned counsel appeared and filed a Memo stating that the previous counsel on record passed away and therefore, there was no representation on 03.08.2021 and on receiving the information, the petitioner engaged the present counsel.
May that be, the Memo filed by the petitioner states that he had already paid 50% of the Entry Tax as per the interim order passed by this Court in the year 2015 and remaining 50% will be paid by the petitioner within seven days from the date of receipt of demand notice from the 3rd respondent. However, the learned counsel, who appeared on behalf of the petitioner before this Court in person submitted that the petitioner is ready to pay the tax either on 06.08.2021 or on 09.08.2021.
Under these circumstances, this Court thought fit that citizens of this great nation are to be reminded of their fundamental duties in order to avoid unnecessary ligations before the High Courts, which would not only cause over burdening, but the redressal of the grievance of the genuine litigants are being affected. On these facts, this Court is of the view that the constitutional principles and its importance, fundamental duties of the citizens are to be reminded by way of ‘obiter dictum’.
Importance and contribution of “Obiter dictum” by the Courts, for the development of field of law and interpretation of constitution:
(i) Great Lawyers and Great Judges have contributed for the March of law in our great Nation. High Courts and the Supreme Court are the custodian of the Constitution and bound to contribute for the development of the constitutional principles. For instance, facets of Article 21 of the Constitution was developed from time to time and now providing a decent medical facility to the citizen becomes an integral part of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, it is duty casted upon the Constitutional Courts to contribute for the development of Constitutional philosophy and principles, so as to achieve the Constitutional visionary of the vibrant democracy.
(ii). Indian Constitution is not a mere law. It is a visionary document and the makers of the Constitution had great vision and highlighting the vision and the development of the visionary perspectives are of greater importance for the purpose of creating a society, wherein people can freely enjoy their valuable rights and understand their fundamental duties. Rights and duties are inseparable. Person, who claims right must be reminded of his duties. One of the fundamental duty enunciated under Article 51A of the Constitution is “to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement.” The fundamental duty casted upon to every citizen under the above clause as well as in other clauses in the Article would provide that in every walk of life, the duties are to be reminded.
(iii) The recent trend is to claim 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, 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.
(iv) The 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 an 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 citizen, they cannot make a complaint that Court has exceeded its jurisdiction by unnecessarily penning down certain points. There exactly the principles of “Obiter dicta” come into assistance. The “Obiter dicta” in a remarkable judgments especially by the Hon’ble Apex Court of India, contributed for the March of law in our great Nation. 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 “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 Hon’ble Judges.
(v) 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.
(vi) The arguments of the petitioner is that he has a right to seek constitutional remedy is well recognized and emphatically he has. Equally, the fundamental duties enunciated under the Constitution also to be reminded to the citizen. Citizen commonly not filing writ petitions, seeking exemption from payment of taxes for the essential goods being purchased. Crores and Crores of poor and middle class people of this great Nation is purchasing half litre and one litre petrol for their low end two wheelers and they are not choosing to file cases for levy of tax or seeking exemptions. While so, citizen enjoying reputation in the society on importing most prestigious and luxury car of the world from England is expected to pay the Entry tax to the State Government as they are plying the imported luxury car from abroad on the road within the State of Tamil Nadu. The roads across the State are 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.
(vii). The vision of the High Court towards the citizen in general are neutral and equal. Achievement of the Constitutional goal to reach the vibrant democracy must be the vision of the High Court. We the people of India, resolved and adopted the Constitution. Thus, the visions expressed and implied are to be glorified for the purpose of reaching the Constitutional goals. The perception of equality enunciated in the Constitution includes the equal economic status and for the upliftment of the poor and downtrodden.
In view of the above principles, this Court is of the considered view that it is the constitutional duty of the High Court to contribute for the development of the constitutional principles as the Indian Constitution is not a mere law but a visionary document. The ‘Obiter dicta‘ offered in various judgments become law for the purpose of development and to make the constitutional rights more vibrant to reach the constitutional goals. Therefore, the petitioner cannot say that his case is to be dismissed in a simple manner, by way of allowing the withdrawal of the writ petition, or by dismissing on the ground that the issues have already been settled.
In view of the facts and circumstances adjudicated in the aforementioned paragraphs, this Court is inclined to pass the following orders:
i. the relief as sought for in this writ petition stands rejected.
ii. The petitioner is directed to pay the balance arrears of Entry Tax of Rs.30,30,757.00, as demanded by the respondents, within a period of 48 hours.
iii. The Registry, High Court Madras, is directed 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. In the event of any lapses, negligence or dereliction on the part of the officials, the Registrar General, High Court, Madras, is directed to initiate appropriate action under the Service Rules in force.
iv. Accordingly, the writ petition stands disposed of. No Costs
The court rejected the petition and ruled against the petitioner
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