CHENNAI: Observing that people holding responsible public posts are acting with evil elements of favouritism, nepotism, and corruption that are anti-developmental and unconstitutional, the Madras High Court disposed of a plea moved by Red Giant Movies in 2012 claiming that it was being discriminated against as they belonged to the Opposition then.
The issue pertains to a series of writ petitions moved since 2012 by Red Giant Movies, a production and distribution company headed by Udhayanidhi Stalin, son of Chief Minister M K Stalin. It was not being granted tax exemption to a number of movies such as Oru Kal Oru Kannadi, Idhu Kathirvelan Kadhal, Vanakkam Chennai, and Neerparavai.
The State government passed an order in July 2006 under the Entertainments Tax Act granting exemption from payment of entertainment tax for movies having their title in Tamil. A subsequent Government Order (G.O.) in July 2011, imposed additional conditions. The government issued orders in January 2012, constituting a committee to view and assess movies based on applications submitted by producers or distributors for tax exemption.
Justice S M Subramaniam, in his order, observed: “As far as the present writ petitions are concerned, this court could easily visualise the possibilities of favouritism and discrimination. The committee’s overall exercise was improper as the members of the committee have a certain personal affinity with the government or the political leaders, who were ruling the State. Courts cannot undo the exercise in the event of not establishing malafide with concrete proof,” it added.
The court issued guidelines to the State government to ensure that only those with merit are appointed to the committee. “If favouritism, nepotism, and corrupt activities are allowed to go on to such an extent, the common man will suffer, and we will not march towards the goal of social justice as enunciated in the Preamble of the Constitution,” the court stressed.
“Therefore, the appointment of women and men of integrity in public posts, specifically in such expert committees, are of paramount importance,” he added.
The court instructed that the government must be careful while making appointments in government organisations as an institution’s integrity is lost if the character of an individual working there is lost. “If each political party appoints its own persons in such expert committees, then there is no scope for revival of social justice, equality in opportunities, merit and integrity,” the court said.