Madurai: Actor Kamal Haasan filed a petition in the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court seeking exemption from personal appearance before the Judicial Magistrate Court in Valliyoor which has issued summons for his appearance on May 5 in connection with a case against him for allegedly hurting Hindu religious sentiments.
The Magistrate has mechanically issued summons without taking into note the principles laid down in MF Hussian Vs Rajkumar Penday and three others similar cases, and the very issuance of the impugned summons has infringed on the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India of the actor, said the petition.
The summons served on the actor refers to section 200 of CrPC alone. But it doesn't mention the charge to be answered. Only from a reading of the complaint did Kamal Haasan come to know that one Aathimatha Sundaram from Pazhavoor alleged commission of an offence under section 298 IPC against him for referring to The Game of Dice' portion of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, which depicts a woman being used as collateral during gambling. He referred to this while he was answering a question on the increasing violence against women in the country in an interview to a private television channel recently.
The petition stated that it does not amount to an offence under section 298 IPC because the section relates to oral words uttered in the presence of a person with the intention of wounding his religious feeling. In this case, the actor had no deliberate intention to wound the religious feelings of the complaint while making such remarks during the course of the interview given to the private television channel, he said in the petition. "If the section is so construed, there will be thousands of complaints by watchers of any television prorgamme".
The petition further said that in a secular democratic and pluralistic society like India there have been several critical works on the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabarath. "Dr Ambedkar, the father of the Indian Constitution, has written a book `Riddles in Hinduism. The great poet and translator AK Ramanjuam has written as essay '300 Ramayanas'. These are all scholarly responses. If they would give rise to criminal prosecution, there can be no genuine conservation of any of these aspects," said the petition.
The actor requested the court to dispense with his personal appearance pending disposal of the above criminal original petition. He also asked the court to call for the records relating to the proceedings of the case and quash the same.