A division bench of the Madras high court today (July 27) stayed a single bench judgement on Tamil films’ leading star Vijay and the entry tax he was supposed to pay on his imported car. The single bench judge had made adverse observations against Vijay and had imposed a cost of Rs. 1 lakh on him for filing a petition challenging the levy of entry tax on his Rolls Royce car.

Vijay appealed to the division bench as he was aggrieved by the “unjust and derogatory” remarks made by the single bench of Justice S.M. Subramaniam on July 13 against him and against the community of actors in general while dismissing his petition. Senior advocate Vijay Narayan, appearing for Vijay, made it clear to the division bench that the actor was not challenging the entry tax demand, but was only challenging the scathing observations in the judgement.

The division bench of Justices S. Duraiswamy and R. Hemalatha stayed the single bench order and directed Vijay to pay the balance 80% entry tax within a week of demand challan issued by the tax department. Vijay’s advocate requested the bench to direct the department to issue the challan within a week as he did not want the issue to be hanging for long. Accordingly, the bench directed the department to raise the demand within a week. The single bench had on July 13 directed Vijay to pay the fine by contributing to the Chief Minister’s COVID-19 Public Relief Fund within two weeks.

While dismissing Vijay’s writ petition filed in 2012, the single bench had said that one becomes a “real hero” by promptly paying tax. The single bench had also taken a dig at Vijay by saying that while his reel life characters were preaching tax compliance, he was seeking exemption in real life. The single bench had remarked, “These actors are portraying themselves as champions to bring social justice in the 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 judge had said that the actor should respect the sentiments of lakhs and lakhs of his fans who watched his movies by paying for tickets. “It is only out of such money that the petitioner has purchased the world’s most prestigious car for his personal use,” the single bench judge had added. In his appeal before the division bench, Vijay said that such remarks were wholly unjustified and uncalled for.

Vijay’s advocate submitted before the division bench that the same single bench had dismissed other cases involving luxury cars with one-page orders, but had passed adverse remarks in the case of Vijay. Furthermore, the lawyer added that when the order was dictated in open court, it was a standard order of dismissal like the ones passed in the other similar cases, but when the judgement copy was uploaded, the petitioner was shocked to see the derogatory remarks. The actor’s lawyer argued that every citizen was entitled to legal remedies to challenge the imposition of tax, and, therefore, to make derogatory remarks against a petitioner for merely availing of a legal remedy was unjust.