The petition seeks a ban on the existing copies as well as the circulation, reprinting, publishing, marketing and selling of Vairamuthu’s article.

Ban Vairamuthus article on Andal PIL moved in Madras High Court
news Controversy Sunday, February 04, 2018 - 15:22

The controversy over poet-lyricist Vairumthu’s article “Tamizhai Andal” witnessed renewed surge with a PIL filed in the Madras High Court seeking a direction from the state to ban the text, published in Tamil daily Dinamani.

The petition seeks the court’s direction to the state government to forfeit all copies of the article as well as prevent copies from being reprinted, circulated, marketed, published or sold. Advocates Mohideen Ibrahim and G Prabhu, A Victor, a painting contractor and KVS Kannan, a software engineer who also claimed to be a scholar in the Tamil text Nalayira Divya PrabandamI sung by the 12 Alwars were the petitioners of the PIL.

The affidavit also included Dinamani publications, the daily that carried the speech and Vairamuthu, as the 5th and 7th respondents respectively.

“The present writ petition seeking for a direction to the respondents 1 to 4 (ministries in the TN government) herein to ban the Article titled as “Tamizhai Andal” authored by the above names Mr. R Vairamuthu, the 7th respondent herein and published in Dina Mani Tamil daily, on 8/1/2018 by the M/S Dhinamani publications/ the 5th respondent herein from being reprinted, published, circulated, marketed and sold, with a direction to State authorities/the respondents 1 to 4 herein in particular the first respondent herein to forfeit all copies of the same,” the petition read.

The petition also alleged that Vairumuthu, “misquoted the shrine hymns and pasurams (verses) of Annai Aandal and misinterpreted the same according to his whims and fancies.”

“Articles 25 and 26 of our constitution of India embody a tolerance for all religion; subject to consideration of public order, health and morality, it is not open for anybody to question the tenets and practices of religion, however irrational they may appear to be to an outsider,” reads the petition.

It also alleged that “defamatory” references that would affect the Tamil culture and the sanctity of a goddess worshipped by crores of people were made by the poet.

Kannan, one of the petitioners had earlier filed on a complaint against the poet in the Rajapalayam police station in Virudhunagar district. The police later registered an FIR against the poet under sections 153A (promoting enmity on grounds of race), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) and 505(2) (statements promoting ill will between classes) of the IPC.

However, as the soft copies of the article are still available on the internet, the petition asked the HC to issue an order to the Home Secretary to ban the text and seize all the copies, preventing it from being circulated.

The petition also stated that the existence and continued circulation of the text might be a threat as foreigners or people from other places who “read this invented history would get a wrong notion that Tamil culture is lascivious.”

“The article is thus offensive and scandalous and unless curtailed would lead future generations to think that the things narrated in the article are true,” it further read.

The petition also made BJP member H Raja the 8th respondent as, according to the petitioners, he did not stop with criticizing Vairamuthu, but went on to drag the name of the Prophet in the controversy which has aggravated the situation.

The petition will be heard on Monday before the first Division Bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose.

Vairamuthu had in January made a controversial speech on on Andal, a seventh century mystic and an Alvar saint. He had stated, "In ‘Indian movement: Some aspects of dissent, protest and reform’, written by Subhash Chandra Malik from America’s Indiana University, there is a line: Andal herself is a Devadasi who lived and died in the Sri Rangam Temple.” He went on to say, “While devotees will not accept this, but those who oppose patriarchy, and those who are against an unequal society, will ponder this.”

It was this controversial speech that was published under the title 'Tamizhai Aandal' in the newspaper Dinamani.  However, after several Hindu groups protested against the poet, he had expressed his regret over his comments and also chose to issue a full-length clarification on the issue.