One and half years ago, Tamil writer Perumal Murugan had declared that the writer in him is dead after he was forced to withdraw his novel 'Madhorubhagan' for hurting 'religious and social sentiments.' On Tuesday, the The Madras High Court ruled in favour of the author, granting him relief from all the controversies.
The court has also dismissed a plea moved by residents of his native town of Thiruchengode to initiate criminal proceedings against him.
The case was filed shortly after Murugan published 'Mathorubagan', a story about a childless couple in rural Tamil Nadu being pushed by their families to fall back on an ancient chariot festival in the temple of the half-female god Ardhanareeswara. During the festival, the union between any man and woman is permitted.
The local administration then organised a peace meet presided over by a district revenue official, where the author had to agree to withdraw all copies of his book and issue an unconditional apology.
However, on Tuesday, concluding the year-long legal battle, the First Bench of Chief Justice S. K. Kaul and Justice Puspha Sathyanarayana held that the settlement arrived at the peace meet would not be binding on the author.
In its ruling, the Madras HC noted: "The choice to read is always with the reader. If you do not like a book, throw it away....Yet, the right to write is unhindered."
Besides dismissing the petitions, the HC has also directed the state government to evolve a scheme within three months to give protection to writers in circumstances like the the one Murugan faced.