'Tamil Thai Vaazhthu' Is A Prayer, A Sanyasi Is Justified In Sitting In Meditation: Madras HC While Quashing FIR Against Protester
Justice G.R.Swaminathan of the Madras High Court, Madurai Bench as quashed an FIR against Kan.Ilango who is associated with a political party, "Naam Thamilar Party".
The FIR was registered in 2018 for offences under Sections 147, 447, 294(b) and 506(i) of IPC. The Accused had protested against an incident where the Pontiff of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, Sri. Vijayendra Saraswathi Swamigal remained seated when the invocation song to Mother Tamil, "Tamil Thai Vaazhthu" was played.
While commenting about the incident that lead to the protest, Court noted that, "Even the Swarajya magazine which is known to hold right-wing leaning views carried an editorial "Stand up and Be Counted : Kanchi Mutt Seer Has No Excuse To Disrespect Tamil State Song". It went to the extent of commenting that the visuals of the pontiff defiantly sitting during the singing of Tamil Thai Vaazhthu comes across as disrespectful, arrogant and quite unfortunate. It also demanded an unconditional apology."
Under the leadership of the Accused, a dozen persons assembled before the branch of Kanchi Mutt at Rameshwaram and provocative slogans were raised. They allegedly entered the Mutt premises wearing footwear. When the defacto complainant who was the Manager of the Mutt protested, he was criminally intimidated, which lead to registration of the crime.
During the hearing, the Counsel for the Petitioner submitted that Accused has expressed regret about his conduct to the de facto complainant and that the de facto complainant is willing to have the case closed.
The Court notes that though the Accused claimed to be a Tamil activist, he could not recite more than two couplets of Thirukkural, when asked by the Bench.
After referring to the judgment of the Supreme Court in Bijoe Emmanuel vs. State of Kerala, where the Supreme Court had allowed the plea of a person belonging to Jehovah's Witnesses, a Christian denomination, who had refused to sing the National Anthem, though had stood up, the Court held that standing up for the prayer song is not the only way of showing respect.
"It is true that the members of the audience conventionally stand up whenever Tamil Thai Vaazhthu is sung. But the question is whether this is the only mode in which respect can be shown. When we celebrate pluralism and diversity, insisting that there can be only one way of showing respect reeks of hypocrisy. One should not forget that a Sanyasi occupies a special place in our social and cultural life. Emperors and Kings have prostrated before Sanyasis and Fakirs. In the epics whenever a Sanyasi entered the royal court, the King will step down from his throne and pay his respects.", the Court observed.
The Court further observed that, "On becoming a Sanyasi, the person suffers a civil death. He must be taken to have a re-birth. A Sanyasi primarily leads a life of piety. When in prayer, he is invariably found in a meditative posture. Since Tamil Thai Vaazhthu is a prayer song, a Sanyasi is certainly justified in sitting in a state of meditation. In the instant case, the pontiff is seen sitting in a Dhyana posture with his eyes closed. It was his way of expressing his reverence and respect for Mother Tamil."
The Court quashed the FIR not only against the Petitioner-Accused but also against other accused in the case.