Police can’t be ordered to act like censor officials: Judge

The Madras High Court Bench in Madurai has come down heavily on people adamant on conducting “obscene” dance performances, popularly known as ‘Aadal Paadal,’ as part of the local temple festivals in rural areas across the State.

Justice K. Chandru said: “It is rather unfortunate that such cases are being filed before this court day in and day out without there being any legal or enforceable right on the part of petitioners to conduct such forms of dances in public places.”

He dismissed a batch of writ petitions filed by different individuals seeking permission for conducting such dance performances at Usilampatti and Chekkanoorani in Madurai district apart from Sattankulam and Kulathoor in Tuticorin district.

The petitioners had approached the court on the strength of orders passed by other judges of the High Court permitting such performances with a direction to the police to ensure that there was no obscenity and prosecute those who indulged in objectionable acts.

Rejecting their contention, Mr. Justice Chandru said that those orders were not passed on the basis of legal principles. “Such a direction can never be given to the police. The police cannot act like censor officials… There is no guarantee that the organisers will obey the conditions imposed,” he added.

He pointed out there was likelihood of public commotion if the police happened to intervene during the dance performances attended by large gatherings. Stating that the petitioners had not spelt out their design behind organising such performances, the judge said: “None of them had claimed that they were great patrons of Indian art forms.”

“In most places ill-clad women dance, gyrating their private parts to the tunes of obscene film songs… It must be noted that deity Mariamman is worshipped in a female form. During the celebration of the festival, the petitioners cannot be allowed to have indecent portrayal of women through such dances, which are in popular lingo called record dances or otherwise known as cabaret dance.”

The judge also said that portrayal of women in an indecent fashion itself was an offence under the provisions of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1981. “This court cannot be a party for indulging in such illegal acts by the petitioners. The long arm of the court cannot be extended to denigrate the culture during the festival,” he held.

He concluded by stating that conducting a dance programme in connection with a temple festival was certainly not an essential part of Hindu religion. The petitioners neither had a religious right guaranteed by the State nor a public right conferred under the municipal laws to exhibit such dances in public places.