Tamil Nadu

Kamal stands by his remark on Mahabharata

Kamal Haasan  

Actor Kamal alias Kamal Haasan alias Parthasarathy (63) has moved the Madras High Court Bench here with a plea to quash a private complaint lodged against him before a Judicial Magistrate at Valliyoor in Tirunelveli district last month for having allegedly hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus during a television interview on March 12.

Along with the quash petition, filed through his counsel G.R. Swaminathan, the actor preferred sub applications seeking an interim stay of the proceedings before the Magistrate and to dispense with his personal appearance before the Magistrate either on May 5, as mentioned in the summons received by him through registered post on May 1, or any other day.

V. Aadhinatha Sundaram (37), a resident of Pazhavoor in Radhapuram Taluk of Tirunelveli district, had filed the private complaint against the actor for having reportedly told the interviewer that there was nothing surprising about violence against women in a society which revered the epic Mahabharata in which a woman is used as collateral during gambling.

Standing by his response to a question posed to him during the interview, Mr. Haasan said: “India is a secular, democratic and pluralistic society. The petitioner was asked a question with regard to violence on women and the petitioner gave an answer which appeared to be true and correct according to his inner light and understanding.

“This cannot be construed as a deliberate wounding of the religious feelings of the complainant. There have been several critical works on the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Dr. Ambedkar, the father of the Indian Constitution, has written a book ‘Riddles in Hinduism.’ The great poet and translator A.K. Ramanujan has written an essay ‘300 Ramayanas.’

“These are all scholarly responses. If they would give rise to criminal prosecution, there can be no genuine conversation on any of these aspects. The impugned complaint deserves to be quashed not only to prevent an abuse of process but also to secure the ends of justice... The learned trial Magistrate has mechanically issued summons in the present case.”

The actor also claimed that his right to freedom of speech and expression had been infringed by the issuance of summons by the Magistrate who had not taken into account the principles of law laid down by various High Courts of the country in many landmark decisions including the one delivered in M.F. Hussain’s case in 2008.

Further, pointing out that he had been a part of the Tamil cultural canvas for more than 50 years, the actor said he never had any intention to hurt the sentiments of anybody, let alone the complainant. The allegation of deliberate wounding of feelings was a figment of imagination of the complainant, he claimed.

Also, raising a technical objection to the complaint, Mr. Haasan said that a bare reading of Section 298 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) would disclose that it would get attracted only if the accused had uttered certain words in the presence of a complainant with a deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of that person.

“In as much as the petitioner herein did not physically utter the offending words in the presence of the complainant, the offence under Section 298 IPC is not made out. Unless the Section is so construed, there will be thousands of complaints by viewers of any television programme,” he said.

Similar complaint

The actor also stated that a Judicial Magistrate in Kumbakonam had on April 20 dismissed a similar complaint lodged against him by another individual with regard to the television interview. “The petitioner cannot be vexed with such complaints all over India,” he added.

His quash petition is expected to be listed for hearing before Justice P.N. Prakash during the summer vacation court sitting on Thursday.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 10:58:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/kamal-stands-by-his-remark-on-mahabharata/article18380119.ece

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