The Madras High Court said on Friday that there is no prima facie case to initiate criminal proceedings against lyricist and poet Vairamuthu, who has been facing criticism for his allegedly derogatory remarks on seventh century mystic poet Andal.

The court was hearing a plea by Vairamuthu, who asked for the criminal cases filed against him to be quashed, The Times of India reported.

The lyricist has been battling criticism after he said in a speech earlier in January that Andal belonged to the Devadasi community, while citing an American scholar’s research.

The Devadasi system was a religious practice in parts of South India in which a girl was married to the temple deity. It has been associated with women and young girls being regarded as temple property and being sexually exploited. His remarks sparked a row after Tamil daily Dinamani published it.

In court on Friday, Vairamuthu said that he only referred to a research article, according to The Times of India. “The statements were not mine,” he said. The judge, MS Ramesh, agreed and said that there seemed to be no offence committed by Vairamuthu by referring to a research article.

Earlier, in an interview to the Times of India, Vairamuthu had said, “Andal fed me with her Tamil and made me what I am today. How will I denigrate my mother?”

Meanwhile, writers from across the state rallied in Vairamuthu’s support and alleged that some people were spreading false information, The Hindu reported.