PIL Seeking to Quash Agreement for Murugan's Apology Dismissed

PIL Seeking to Quash Agreement for Murugan's Apology Dismissed

The Madras High Court bench today dismissed a PIL by a Tamil arts and literary forum, seeking to quash the agreement between Perumal Murugan, author of controversial novel Mathoru Pagan and a Namakkal district official under which he was forced to tender an unconditional apology and delete some portions of the book.

Petitioner Anandhakumar, Secretary of Tamil Nadu Kalai Ilakiya Perumanram, submitted the novel about a childless couple had been published in 2011. But after a section of communal forces and religious fundamentalists 'whipped up' passions and there were a series of agitations, officials held a peace committee meeting during which the agreement was signed.

Under it, Mururgan was forced to tender an unconditional apology, delete the controversial portions of the novel and not give interview or write any article on the issue, he said.

The petitioner, who also sought to declare the peace committee meeting as illegal, said the novel had not been banned by the central or state governments and in that context it was illegal to sign an agreement.

He alleged that district officials had succumbed to the communal forces who organised the agitation. In fact, there was no clear-cut mention which portion of the book hurt the feelings of the particular community.

He submitted that the author was forced to leave his house for some time. He was also mentally tortured and forced to issue a statement that he was 'dead' as a writer and his previous publications would be withdrawn and he would not attempt to bring out any literary work.

Ananthakumar maintained it was a PIL as writers' freedom had been affected and many public agitations had been held against government officials who held the peace committee meeting.

However, Justices S Tamilvanan and V S Ravi said there was nothing in the case to be branded as a "PIL" and the issue was a dead one now and no post mortem could be done on it.

When the petitioner pointed out that the Principal seat of the High court had asked to implead Murugan in the petition and had taken it for hearing, the Judges said, "Operation is possible only on live persons and not dead issues."

Later, the petitioner submitted that prospect of the case pending in the Principal seat should not be affected by dismissal of the case here and withdrew the petition, after which the PIL was treated as dismissed.

The novel revolves around travails of a childless couple and also deals with consensual sex between any man and childless woman to conceive during the annual temple car festival at Tiruchengode in Tamil Nadu.

It was alleged 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.

The author had, however, denied it and apologised if he had hurt any section of people.

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