It is remarkable, righteous and refreshing to see that the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court in a latest, learned, laudable and landmark judgment titled M. Thangaraj (Ex. MC) v. The District Collector, Dindigul District, Dindigul and others [WP(MD)No.433 of 2021 & WMP(MD)Nos.359, 360 & 362 of 2021] while allowing the general public including the Petitioner to follow the ritual of taking a procession around the temple (Girivalam) has recently on January 18, 2021 observed that all the religious processions should spread positivity and brotherhood and in no manner should be a cause for any communal disturbance. Those who try to justify communal disturbance under any circumstances must always remember what Deanswift had once famously said that, “We have just enough religion to make us hate one another but not enough to make us love one another.” It must be mentioned here that the single Judge Bench of Justice R Hemalatha was hearing the plea of one M. Thangaraj (Ex. MC) who prayed before the Court for allowing the general public to participate in the ritual “Girivalam” outside Arulmigu Padmagirishwhara Swamy and Arulmigu Abirami Ambigai Temple at Dindigul District in Tamil Nadu.
To start with, Mrs Justice R Hemalatha of Madurai Bench of Madras High Court who authored this brilliant, brief, bold and balanced judgment mentions about the prayer right at the outset first and foremost that, “Writ Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India to issue Writ of Certiorari to call for the records in ROC.No. 100/2020/C2 dated 28.12.2020 and quash the same.”
Needless to say, it is then pointed out in the opening para that, “The present petition is filed by one M.Thangaraj, Ex.MC, resident of Dindigul District seeking for a writ of certiorari calling for the records in ROC.No.100/2020/C2 dated 28.12.2020 on the file of the first respondent and quash the same.”
While elaborating on the contention of the petitioner, it is then stated in para 2 that, “The contention of the petitioner is that he is a devotee of Arulmigu Padmagirishwhara Swamy and Arulmigu Abirami Ambigai at Dindigul District. His further contention is that the first respondent vide his proceedings in ROC.No.100/2020/C2 dated 28.12.2020 prohibited the entire public from gathering more than five in number outside the temple with effect from 06.00 pm on 28.12.2020 in order to prevent the conduct of procession around the temple. According to him, the general public including him follow the ritual of taking a procession around the temple (“Girivalam”) for the past 20 years and that the police is preventing them from doing so. He therefore, prayed for allowing the general public to participate in the ritual “Girivalam”.”
To put things in perspective, it is then brought out in para 4 that, “The sixth respondent in his counter stated that as per the intelligence report, members from Hindu Religions Organization, Hindu Munnani and Hindu Makkal Katchi have joined the procession (“Girivalam”). They were also carrying banners, placards, mike sets, chanting slogans and beating drums. This has been objected to by another Section of people belonging to Islam, who claim that the Rock Fort is their religious site, where they conduct Namas and Prayers and at the same time, the Hindu Makkal Katchi and other Hindu outfits are planning to lit lamps atop the hills. The situation was therefore controlled by deploying nearly 600 police personals.”
Simply put, it is then most remarkably stated in para 5 that, “A perusal of the counter filed by the sixth respondent shows that the devotees of Arulmigu Lord Shiva are following the ritual “Girivalam”. All the Religious processions should spread positivity and brotherhood and in no manner should be a cause for any communal disturbance. This applies for all religions and this Court expects every individual to believe in unity in diversity and communal harmony.”
Equally significant is what is then held in para 6 of this notable judgment that, “As it can be observed that the ritual of “Girivalam” has been followed by the Hindus amongst the general public for the last ten years, I do not find any reason as to why the general public should be prohibited from taking part in the procession especially when the impugned order dated 28.12.2020 does not prohibit the general public from participating in “Girivalam”. However, keeping in mind the Covid-19 protocol as well as law and order into consideration, it should be ensured that the procession is peaceful without any provocative slogans or any other gestures.”
Finally, it is then held in the last para 7 that, “With the above observations, this petition is disposed of. No costs. Consequently, the connected Miscellaneous Petitions are closed.”
For the sake of clarity, it is also made clear in this commendable, composed and courageous judgment that, “In view of the present lock down owing to COVID-19 pandemic, a web copy of the order may be utilized for official purposes, but, ensuring that the copy of the order that is presented is the correct copy, shall be the responsibility of the advocate/litigant concerned.”
In summary, all Judges while delivering judgments in similar such cases must always ensure like we see in this extremely laudable, latest and learned judgment that full care is taken to completely ensure that nothing is said or done that can spark tensions between two communities or castes or religions under any circumstances on any pretext whatsoever. It is really good to learn that while allowing the general public including the Petitioner to follow the ritual of taking a procession around the temple (Girivalam), the Madras High Court has recently on January 18, 2021 in this noteworthy case has very rightly observed that all the religious processions should spread positivity and brotherhood and in no manner should be a cause for any communal disturbance. It must be reiterated yet once again that what Deanswift had said long ago is most relevant now than ever before when fights break out on very petty issues between different religions, different castes and different groups that, “We have just enough religion to make us hate one another but not enough to make us love one another.”
Why can’t we live in peace and love all as we all know that no religion in this world ever teaches hatred? We can live peacefully provided we don’t get swayed by vested leaders with vested interests who spare no opportunity to make sure that tension breaks out on the drop of a hat and what is worst is that still very rarely do we see them being held accountable! This has to change if we really want India to prosper, progress and become powerful! No denying it!