The Madras High Court today gave Tamil writer Perumal Murugan, who withdrew from the literary world after a row over his novel Mathorubhagan objected to by right wing groups, the liberty to decide if he would like to pursue a petition filed by a supporter or that by a writer's forum.
"In the present petition, the author has been impleaded as a respondent whereas in the first petition filed by writers association in which similar issues were raised, the author was sought to be impleaded. In our view, rights can be agitated by the author and he will choose which petition he would like to prosecute," the first bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M M Sundresh, said.
The bench stated this while hearing a PIL filed by one Lajapathy Roy in support of the author, in which Murugan was named the respondent.
The bench, before which an earlier petition by Progressive Writers and Artists Association came up, had observed that the largest concern is extra-judicial groups wielding power to decide what is right and what is not and thus asking the authors what to write or not.
The bench also issued a notice to Murugan in the earlier petition and posted the matters for further hearing to February 9.
The court today dismissed another petition filed by one Vairavel as he sought to direct the authorities to permit the conduct of a meeting on 'objectionable' portions of the novel.
Justice T S Sivagnanam, before whom the petition came up, directed the petitioner to wait till a decision was arrived by the First Bench before which many petitions in this regard had been filed and the author has been made a party.
Mathorubhagan was caught up in protests over the past few days, with some outfits seeking a ban on the book, claiming it denigrates Hindu deities and women devotees.
The author later issued a declaration on Facebook stating that the writer is "dead" and "Perumal Murugan should be left alone", withdrawing himself from literary world.
The novel revolves around travails of a childless couple and also deals with consensual sex between any man and a childless woman to conceive during the annual temple car festival at Tiruchengode in Tamil Nadu.
Protestors allege that the town of Tiruchengode, women devotees and the annual car festival of Shiva temple there were portrayed in a bad light in the book.
Murugan has, however, denied it and apologised if he had hurt any sections of people.