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No Dance Form Should Be Identified Using A Caste/Tribal Community's Name To Insult Such Community Members: Madras High Court
While disposing of a petition seeking to take action against cultural programmes denigrating the Kuravar community, the Madras High Court directed the state to ensure that no dance performances are identified with a community, so as to denigrate the members of the community.
..ensure that no dance performance is identified using a caste/ tribal community's name so as to insult or degrade the persons belonging to such community.
The bench of Justice R Mahadevan and Justice Sathya Narayana Prasad of the Madurai bench also directed the State and police authorities not to grant permissions to such cultural programmes depicting the Kuravar community in an obscene manner.
The court also directed the authorities to open a separate portal for the general public where any grievance with respect to obscene representation of the community could be raised and the related videos could be uploaded. The Cyber crime department could then look into the grievance and take appropriate action whenever necessary.
to open a separate portal by the Cyber Crime department for general public to post their complaints with necessary evidence about the scandalous dance videos of such community, and on receipt of the same, the official concerned shall verify and expunge the same, besides taking criminal action against the offenders.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Iraniyan, General Secretary of Vanavengaigal Peravai, an organisation working for the upliftment of the Kuravar community. The petitioner contended that presently the cultural programmes have been discoloured and flooded with vulgarities instead of depicting moral stories from holy epics.
The petitioner added that though earlier members of the community were cast to perform in these programs, most of the dancers today do not belong to any tribal community but merely use their names. The petitioner also stated that portrayal of the community in a scandalous manner would not only hurt the feelings of members of the community but also create hatred in the minds of persons from other communities and may even lead to violence against the tribal community.
The respondent authorities on the other hand submitted that the government has been treating all persons equally and had also formulated welfare schemes for the upliftment of members from downtrodden communities.
It was also submitted that the Director General of Police had already directed all police stations to grant permission for cultural programmes only after getting an undertaking from the organisers that there will be no obscenity or vulgarity and no disturbance to public peace and tranquility. If any violation was observed, strict action was to be taken against the organisers.
Lamenting over the misrepresentation of indigenous art forms, the court noted that such practices should not prevail in the society and it was the duty of the government to ensure that every person was treated equally. The court added that these traditional art forms have gone through so many changes to an extent that it has normalised objectification of women.
Despite various directions of this Court, obscenity in the dance persists. Obviously, such misrepresentation and misappropriation of Kuravar’s indigenous art form will hurt the community’s feeling and acts of objectification under the guise of their community, ultimately leads to the persons belonging to the community being disrespected and ostracised, though they are not involved in the performances. Nevertheless, banning of such art form will amount to violation of fundamental rights of the individual performers and groups.
Thus, the court deemed it appropriate to prohibit the use of names 'Kuravar-Kurathi' in performances where they were not involved.
Case Title: Po.Mu.Iraniyan @ Muthu Murugan v. The Union of India and others
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Mad) 12
Case No: WP (MD)No.20097 of 2018