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November 21, 2017
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 HC revokes govt. orders forfeiting two Tamil books Asks author to avoid making derogatory remarks against other caste groups

Striking a balance between freedom of speech and expression and reasonable restrictions that could be imposed on such freedom, the Madras High Court on Friday ordered revocation of two government orders passed in 2013 and 2015 forfeiting all copies of the books titled Meendu Ezhum Pandiyar Varalaru and Vendhar Kulathin Iruppidam Edhu? if the author K. Senthil Mallar deletes “abusive” contents against certain caste groups.

A Full Bench of Justices M.M. Sundresh, Pushpa Sathyanarayana and R. Mahadevan passed the order while disposing of writ petitions filed by the author challenging the two government orders.

“As most of the alterations (proposed to be made by the author) have been accepted by the State, there cannot be any justification for the forfeiture to continue,” the judges observed and ordered revocation of the orders within two weeks on production of a corrected copy of the book.

The judges appreciated the author for the hard work put in by him to substantiate the claim of his caste group Mallar, also known as Pallar, that they were the descendants of Pandya rulers, but relegated to the status of a Scheduled Caste over the years. However, “the petitioner has… lost his way in the middle and made provoking statements,” they said.

‘Immoral allegations’

Authoring the judgment for the Bench, Mr. Justice Mahadevan said: “In the said process, he has also made allegations against deceased leaders and freedom fighters which by itself is immoral. There cannot be any justification in lifting a community by demeaning other communities… Had the petitioner shown restraint and stuck to the object, now claimed, without using such language against other caste and linguistic people, the impugned orders would not have been passed.”

The order pointed out that in the preface the petitioner had called upon his community people to come together by honing their fighting skills to avenge their fall and fight, to retrieve their land lost to people of different castes and vouch for a separate country.

“It would be well within the right of the State to curb any such separatist ideologies to protect the sovereignty of the country and in the interest of the security of the State.

“The voice now pitched by the petitioner, according to us, is against Articles 19(1)(d) [right to move freely throughout the country], (e) [right to reside and settle in any part of the country] and 21 [right to protection of life and personal liberty] of the Constitution,” the order read.