In a relief to director Pa Ranjith, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court quashed the 2019 case filed against him over speech criticising Raja Raja Cholan. The case had been filed against him after his 2019 speech at an event in Thiruppanandal. The court was hearing the director’s bail plea, and on Friday, quashed the case against him.
Pa Ranjith’s counsel submitted to the High Court bench headed by Justice Ilangovan that the director had only said the same things that are stated in various history books and that only his speech is being misrepresented on social media. “I did not post any comment with any malicious intent. And my opinion is not against any community,” the director submitted to the court.
In June 2019, the director had given the speech at a commemorative event for the late Umar Farooq, organised by the Neela Puligal Iyakkam, an organisation that Umar had founded. The event took place in Thiruppanandal near Kumbakonam. At the event, Ranjith had criticized a tendency of various caste groups to take uncritical pride in Raja Raja Cholan, and added that for Dalits, the rule of the erstwhile king had been a dark age. "Land had been forcibly taken away from them and many forms of caste oppression had begun during Raja Raja Cholan’s reign," he said.
In August this year, the Madurai bench had passed an interim injunction on the filing of the final report against the director. On June 11, 2019, based on a complaint by former Thanjavur District Secretary Ka Bala of the Hindu Makkal Katchi, Thiruppandandal police registered an FIR against Ranjith under IPC 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 153 (A) (1) (a) (promoting enmity between different groups). Ranjith had filed a bail plea seeking anticipatory bail the following day.
In his plea, Pa Ranjith had said that he’d spoken what Umar Farooq had written in his book about landless people, particularly landless people in the Delta region. He stated that many history books and other people have spoken about the same issue, but only his words were being misrepresented. Since he had said nothing new in that event and because his words do not target any particular community, he’d requested that the case be dismissed.
Earlier, Justice Illangovan, who presided over the case, had said that “a person has the right to express their opinion.”