Secretary to Commercial Taxes Department, in its reply to a petition filed by one K J Saravanan, who complained that the tax benefits announced by the Government to certain films are not passed on to the public by the cinema theatres, submitted that "the exemption of entertainment tax is only for film industry and not to the viewers."

"Government circulars have not mentioned anywhere that theatre owners should collect lesser rate for the tickets than what is prescribed by the competent authority", the counsel for the Department submitted.

Counsel for the petitioner contended that "in a similar case the Supreme Court had said that theatre owners could not retain any tax exemption given by the government. It should go to viewers".

In Tamil Nadu, cinema halls, including multiplexes, can charge only Rs 120 per ticket from viewers. It includes Rs 81.5 admission fee, Rs 37.5 entertainment tax and Rs 1 as theatre maintenance charges. Viewers must be charged Rs 37.5 less in case of tax-exempted films", he contended.

The counsel for Commercial Taxes Department said "there is no specific provision either under the Tamil Nadu Cinemas (Regulations) Act, 1955 or Tamil Nadu Entertainment Tax Rules, 1939, to sell tickets for lesser rate than that is permitted by the competent authority".

Justice S Vaidhyanathan, before whom the matter came up for hearing, adjourned the matter to March 30 for further hearing.

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