In a major blow to Tamil film industry the Madras High Court stayed the operation of a Tamil Nadu government order which entitled films with a Tamil title and ‘promoting Tamil culture’ and a’ U’ certificate from entertainment tax exemption.
On a batch of petitions from advocate GB Motcham and others, the first bench of comprising acting Chief Justice Satish K Agnihotri and Justice MM Sundresh pointed out that the government had not even filed its counter-affidavit despite notices and several opportunities all these years.
The first bench of the court said, “It appears that the state has nothing to say in the matter.” The practice of granting tax exemption to films with Tamil titles was introduced by the DMK government on July 22, 2006.
On July 21, 2011, a wider guideline was laid down by AIADMK government, as per which besides the Tamil title the benefiting film should meet four other qualifying norms.
The four new guidelines say that the film should have obtained ‘U’ certificate, the story should promote Tamil language and culture, dialogue in the film should be in Tamil except in scenes which warrant use of other languages, and violence and obscenity should not find a place beyond the ‘tolerable limit’.
The TN government came under attack from filmmakers who were denied tax exemption for their films assailing the provision itself and the bench had issued notices to the government.
Now the latest petition was against the April 4 order of the commercial taxes department granting tax exemption to Tamil film ‘Maan Karate’. An advocate Jayalseen filed a PIL saying ‘karate’ was a Japanese word and the authorities ought not to have extended tax benefits to the film.
The TN government did not file a counter affidavit, which irked the court which stayed the operation of the July 21, 2011 order of the state government.