Dhoti controversy goes to High Court

Is PIL petition maintainable, asks Acting Chief Justice

July 17, 2014 01:16 am | Updated November 16, 2021 05:35 pm IST - CHENNAI

The controversy over the TNCA Club denying entry to a sitting judge and two advocates for coming to a function here in dhoti came up before the Madras High Court on Wednesday.

A city advocate has filed a public interest litigation petition for a directive to the State government to regulate the functioning of clubs in the State. He also wanted the government to suspend the licence of the TNCA Club.

In the petition, S. Karthik of Chromepet said the judge (Justice D. Hariparanthaman) and two senior advocates went to the club on July 11 for a book release function. Newspapers reported that the three were refused entry into the function hall as they were attired in dhoti, a traditional dress.

The action was against the fundamental rights and civil and cultural rights of Tamils. Clubs could not frame rules or regulations prescribing the dress code, which were without any legal sanctity. Dhoti was a traditional dress and the insignia of Indian heritage. The tradition of wearing dhoti was being followed since time immemorial, the petitioner said. Mr. Karthik submitted that the rules framed by clubs infringed on the fundamental rights of individuals, and they were illegal. The rules of the club that restricted a person solely on grounds of his personal attire were liable to be struck down since discrimination in any form could not be allowed to be practised in India, the petitioner said.

When the matter came up before the First Bench of the Acting Chief Justice (ACJ), Satish K. Agnihotri, and Justice M.M. Sundresh, the ACJ asked counsel how the petition was maintainable. Counsel said the club’s action amounted to violation of fundamental rights.

The ACJ observed that the association was a private body, and it had framed the rules. He wanted to know how it would affect the rights. When counsel pointed out that the matter was raised in the Assembly, he said the legislature was the competent authority to look into the matter.

The Bench later ordered that the petition be posted before some other Division Bench on which Mr. Justice Sundresh will not sit.

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