The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday granted filmmaker Pa Ranjith a conditional anticipatory bail for his comments on emperor Raja Raja Cholan earlier this month, The News Minute reported.
Justice P Rajamanickam granted the bail on the condition that Ranjith will refrain from making any controversial statements in the future, and if he did so, a case to cancel his bail could be pursued in the magistrate court.
The director – whose films such as Kabali and Kaala have been hailed for their mature handling of caste – had claimed that Raja Raja Chola I was responsible for forcibly taking away land from Dalits. In addition, said Ranjith, the monarch had entrenched the devadasi system, which institutionalised the sexual exploitation of women.
The judge observed that there was no need to investigate the director under police custody.
Ranjith’s counsel had argued that while there had been no law and order problem after his speech, a case was filed six days later on June 11. The counsel also claimed that his speech was based on research from published books and was not aimed at creating enmity between communities. Referring to freedom of speech, his counsel asked for the case to be rejected, according to The News Minute.
To this, Justice Barathidasan said that freedom of speech had its limits and asked for proof that the emperor had taken away lands from Dalits.
Acting on a complaint from Bala, former Thanjavur district secretary of the Hindu Makkal Katchi, the Thirupanandal Police had registered a case and that will be now heard on July 8. Bala had alleged that Ranjith’s remarks were an attempt to create divisions among castes and was against the sovereignty of the country. The judge also directed the Thiruppanandhal police to file a response petition with documentary evidence by the next hearing.
Ranjith had filed an anticipatory bail plea on June 12. “As a chief guest at the event, I only spoke some of the truths about King Raja Raja Chozhan,” he said in his bail plea. “How to remove casteism? How to create a casteless society? I spoke about all these, including the plight of landless people, especially those from the delta regions mentioned in Umar Farooq’s Senthamizh Naatu Cherigal.”
The filmmaker was booked under Section 153, which deals with charges of deliberate provocation with intent to cause rioting, and Section 153 (A), which is against promoting conflict between different groups on the basis of religion, race, place of birth, and language, among other things, of the Indian Penal Code.