New Delhi, Aug. 13: Delhi High Court today issued notices to Sachin Tendulkar and the Union finance and sports ministries on a duty waiver of Rs 1.13 crore granted to the cricket star on a Ferrari gifted to him by the car company.
A single judge bench of Justice Vikramjit Sen, which took suo motu cognizance of newspaper reports, referred to a cartoon by R.K. Laxman.
“Laxman in his usual tongue-in-cheek manner depicts an old man blessing his grandson to become a cricket star so that he is exempted from all taxes,” the judge said while issuing the notice. “It reminds me of the adage that the greatest truths are spoken in jest.”
He said the matter will be treated as a public interest litigation, which would be heard by an “appropriate bench”.
The court has fixed the hearing on August 19 by which time the finance and sports ministries would have to explain how and why the duty was waived.
The notice will be served to Tendulkar through Bombay Cricket Association and the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
Tendulkar was gifted the Ferrari-360 Modeno last year after he equalled the late cricket maestro Sir Don Bradman’s tally of 29 Test centuries. The car was flown in an Air France carrier from Paris on August 9 this year.
The judge wondered how the sports ministry could indulge in such “profligacy” when it was refusing to increase the number of Arjuna awards due to lack of funds. “This exemplifies profligacy in spending in connection with cricket and parsimony when other sports are concerned.”
“It is arguable that the grant of exemption of duty to an individual would offend Article 14 of the Constitution (equality before law and equal application of law),” Justice Sen said. He has appointed advocate Arjun Bhandari as amicus curiae in the case to assist the court.
A PIL was also filed in Bombay High Court on the duty waiver. The petitioner challenged the decision to waive duties on the car gifted to the cricket star. The Centre today told the court that the decision was in “public interest” for his 29 Test centuries.