"The novel in question, “Madhorubagan” also attempts to depict the current mores and the stigmas attached to childlessness, with specific reference to the Indian context," the Court said.

In giving relief to Perumal Madras HC draws parallels with Udta Punjab row
news Court Judgement Tuesday, July 05, 2016 - 18:24

The Madras High Court on Tuesday ruled in favour of Tamil writer Perumal Murugan while dismissing a host of PILs seeking criminal action against the author for his controversial novel Madhorubagan.

In its 160-page judgement delivered on Tuesday, the Court sought to draw similarities with the film Udta Punjab which was in the midst of a controversy recently after the Censor Board had suggested close to 100 cuts. The Board had asked for removal of all objectionable words and scenes in the film's portrayal of the drug culture prevalent in the state.

The Court observed that some fictional characters were inserted into the film to illustrate the drug culture which has taken root among youngsters in Punjab. In this context, some of them were shown to be using expletives in the film that may not be generally associated with a refined person. However, the Court felt that these scenes were not meant to corrupt the mind of the individual but to present a realistic portrayal of the issue at hand. It also added that the work needed to be assessed in its entirety instead of dwelling on a few sentences picked up randomly, which could not be termed as creating a negative impact.

In particular, the Court pointed to this part of the Bombay High Court judgement:

“The human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity. Such scenes and dialogues have to be viewed in totality. The story must be read and considered in its entirety. It is not safe to select a few words, sentences, dialogues and scenes and then to arrive at the conclusion reached by the Board. If the strata of the society and habituated to indulge freely in vulgar abuses are shown as indulging in the same without in the slightest manner glorifying them or their language, then, we do not see anything objectionable in the words.”

The Court said that the Censor Board (CBFC) sought to impose cuts relating to the use of various cuss words without considering them in the context of the theme and subject of the film and this was tantamount to infringing upon the artistic freedom of the film-maker.

Although the observations in the Udta Punjab case relate to a cinematographic work, but they apply to the present case as well because all literary works, whether films or books, fall under the domain of artistic creativity, the Court added.  

The Court categorically stated, “The novel in question, “Madhorubagan” also attempts to depict the current mores and the stigmas attached to childlessness, with specific reference to the Indian context.”

Calling Perumal Murugan's book a work of fiction, the judgement says, "On reading the novel, we felt that it could not be put down without going the whole hog. It was so absorbing! At the end of the story, what comes to the mind? At least to our mind, it is a heart-rending story of a husband and wife, who are at peace with themselves, but are constantly reminded by the society of their status – of being childless."


Also Read: 

'If you don't like a book, throw it away': Madras HC's fantastic order on Perumal Murugan

Perumal Murugan case: Madras HC frames 5 important guidelines for future ‘peace talks’

Madras HC quashes criminal case against Tamil writer Perumal Murugan

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