What happened in Thanthai Periyar case”. By mhc advt Priya Kanan

Priya Kannan
D/ Late Thiru P.Kannan (Salem Kannan) Ex MP, Salem
Without any affiliation to any particular Political Party or Persons, I am posting this only for people to know the true facts and not be misled by frivolous and mischievous designs on ‘Thanthai Periyar case”. A case prosecuted by my Father Late Thiru P. Kannan ( Salem Kannan) Ex MP; on behalf of the Complainant Late Thiru Jayaraman Reddiyar; proceedings of which are all public records.
Thanthai Periyar’s case:
1972 a period witnessing the atheist ideological movement of Periyar. Number of processions were held throughout TamilNadu and one such procession which led to prosecution of Periyar was the one held in Salem. Followers of Dravida Kazhagam took out procession on road near Salem Town with Periyar on a chariot. His followers kept Hindu idols in a van and were hitting the same with slippers, broom sticks and threw cow dung in public view.
At that time one Durai was the Superintendent of Police, Salem District (a time prior to bifurcation of Namakkal as a separate District).
Appa and his friend Jayaraman Reddiyar, stayed in hotel Geetha, near Ethiraj college, which is now presently holding the Central Tourist Development Corporation. It was owned by one Jayaram Aiyar and food was supposed to be very tasty.
Appa learnt about what transpired during the Salem procession while reading the Hindu newspaper. About 3500 policemen were deployed to give bandobust during the procession. Photos of the procession were published in the Tuglaq weekly journal.
All over Tamilnadu, places like Railway stations, book shops, tea shops etc wherever the journal was displayed for sale, all those copies were seized based on a Government Order passed by the then DMK government on the ground that the photos of the procession published amounted to obscenity.
Appa suggested to Jayaraman Reddiyar to file a case questioning the authority to declare the publication of photos as obscenity.
Jayaraman Reddiyar belonged to a Zamindar family. A very wealthy person who had his bungalow on the way from Namakkal to Thiruchengode road, running lorry transport business and later sustained heavy loss. He sold his bungalow which was purchased by Gounder community men. Above all to highlight on the fact he was an atheist. Never gone to any temple.
The very next day they came to Salem and made ready a complaint. Appa ‘s senior advised Appa not to file the same as there might be chances of commotion and chaos erupting everywhere. Appa convinced his senior to pursue the incident on an academic perspective the issue on obscenity, whether publishing photos of the original act would amount to obscenity.
The complaint was filed before the District Magistrate Court, Salem. One Thiru Madhavan was the District Magistrate at the relevant time.
The complaint was given by Jayaraman Reddiyar and summons were served on the accused. Accused arraigned in the complaint were:
Professor Chokappa, Salem Arts College
Thiruvarur Thangaraj (Wherever Dravida meetings were held, he will be the pilot holding the flag post. He had sacrificed his life for the party, a total dedication/ submission to Periyar)
Tamil Pulavar Pachamuthu, Salem Arts College,
and 3 others.
All the Accused appeared, who were represented by more than 50 lawyers. Late Thiru Sankaramudhaliyar’s son – in – law appeared for Periyar (High Court Judge Jagadeesans brother – in- law), a person who practiced on civil side and who was later elevated as District Public Prosecutor. Thiru Duraisamy, now Senior Advocate, High Court of Madras (Advocate representing Nalini in Rajiv Gandhi’s Assassination case) also appeared for Periyar.
The Court premises witnessed chaotic situation with huge violent crowd of Periyar’s followers occupying the space on all days of trial.
The Saurasthra community of RSS wing were in support of Appa, though not a match to the huge violent crowd waiting outside the court premises. They will be with Appa until the accused appear for the days hearing, as they were threatened with knife and other weapons and DMK was the ruling party.
Appa cited Durai Superintendent of Police, Salem District, as the 1st Prosecution witness to prove the charge. Appa first elicited from PW1 that he gave a good bandobust by deploying 3500 policemen. The very first question made the SP feel that he was very much elated by Appa and replied yes without understanding the consequence to such an admission. Further Appa questioned about the processionist hitting the Hindu idols placed in the van with broom sticks, slippers and cow dung, which he admitted. The next question was that PW 1 prevented the public from obstructing these people and a complete bandobust given to the processionist. PW 1 admitted that yes they had given bandobust to the processionist and prevented the Public from obstructing them. Appa questioned that everything happened in the immediate presence of PW 1, and there was no obscene in it, so that’s why PW 1 also protected the processionist. To the question PW 1 replied yes. To the question that the original acts committed during the procession were reproduced in the form of photos in Tuglaq – the answer was yes. To the Question that PW 1 recommended for a GO to be issued, to ban and seize all the publication of Tuglaq throughout the country from the TamilNadu Government and he replied yes. Questioned that PW 1 did it because he felt it was absolutely obscene. He did reply ‘Yes it was obscene that’s why I recommended’. Questioned that if the reproduction of the original act is found to be obscene and totally obscene and that is why PW 1 recommended total ban and seizure- answered as ‘yes it is correct’. Questioned that they were only still photos and not moving video- PW1 replied yes. That PW1 gave bandobust to the processionist who were hitting the Hindu idols with slippers and broom sticks in PW 1’s immediate presence, and that he did not feel obscene. PW 1 replied ‘Yes’. Questioned that so reproduction of the original acts in still photos is obscene but original act committed was not obscene. So if original act is not obscene then how the photos become obscene. Only then PW 1 realized his admissions made to all the questions Appa had put to him. PW 1 was forced to admit that what happened in public was also obscene. Questioned that had PW 1 not given police protection, there would have been commotion between the public and those processionist, scuffle between them. Answered yes. The final stroke to PW 1 was that he also aided and abetted the obscenity by providing bandobust to the procession. With no other go after 10 minutes he said how can I go against the Government. Questioned then if Government instructs you to do wrong will you oblige. He said you are putting me in trouble and started pleading. Appa said you forget about you, as it may affect your official position if it is done by some other official is it wrong or not. PW 1 replied Yes.
PW 1’s examination went on for 3 days. Subsequently Book sellers on the road were procession took place and who witnessed the occurrence were examined and finally Thiru Cho Ramasamy was cited as a prosecution witness.
Thiru Cho Ramasamy drove all by himself to Salem. Though Appa requested for booking room for him, Cho booked room for himself in Hotel Dwaraka. Appa instructed him to give evidence in English and not in Tamil, because the accused cannot cross examine him in English. DMK lawyers came from Virudhachalam, Villupuram, Salem and from Madras Advocate Thiru Duraisamy, were all not capable of examining in English as the subject was turbulent. Nobody can prove the existence of God.
Appa began questioning in English and Thiru Cho replied throughout in English. At the time of cross examination the Accused counsel praised Cho that he was a very popular man known for his good works in Tamil and suggested as to why not answer in Tamil. Thiru Cho believing them and getting carried away started replying in Tamil. Subsequent cross examination was in Tamil and Cho was questioned if he can tell how Aiyappa samy was born, can he prove the existence of Vinayaka and such other questions. They tried to project the fact that what was not in existence and which cannot be proved. So Cho became a victim. Religion is a question of belief. Appa tried to interfere but since they started to cross, Thiru Cho was questioned if he can prove God’s existence, Cho was unable to answer. Inspite of all the fumbling questions and answering session of Thiru Cho Ramasamy, end of the days trial the point of obscenity of original act was proved.
Appa was the only person to appear for the complainant. The conduct of a non-Brahmin Junior Advocate to prosecute the case so well was appreciated even by all the accused and their counsels who became very friendly with Appa. They took lunch together at Bombay Briyani hotel, then near Gandhi stadium. But in Court there will be bitter fight but outside very cordial and were very friendly. Periyar appreciated Appa, saying being a non-Brahmin could conduct the case so well and in a bold manner. To condone the absence of Periyar petition was filed, Appa did not object because there was no difficultly to identify Periyar. But subsequently he was attending.
Case went on for months together. Accused were discharged. Appeal was preferred before the Hon’ble High Court of Madras. The Hon’ble High Court confirmed the order of discharge of the Accused passed by the Trial Court.
Leave to appeal before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, where finally the verdict was that it was proved beyond reasonable doubt that the original act committed in the procession was a case of obscenity but due to age factor of Periyar, they need not be physically punished and moreover the case had gone on for many years. Accordingly the order was passed.
Appa met Periyar in Chennai during a function, when someone in the crowd informed Periyar about Appa’s visit, Periyar called on Appa and appreciated him and asked to continue the practice in the same manner with such boldness.
In 1973 MGR came to know about the case filed against Periyar. AIADMK was formed in Oct 1972. MGR asked Appa, won’t the public misunderstand him for filing a case against Periyar and that too being a member of AIADMK. Appa said that this case was filed even before the new party was formed, as an Advocate he was bound to proceed and cannot give up on the case on the ground that he is a member of AIADMK. Professional etiquette to appear and to withdraw subsequently may not be appropriate and more over a period when nobody came forward to help the complainant as they were scared of Periyar. So MGR said alright go ahead with the case.
A big victory indeed, while I look at Appa with all my adorations and respect. A case so well done and one such outcome of the case was Jayaraman Reddiyar became popular everywhere and invites were sent from throughout India. Reddiyar enjoyed his last days of life with all pomp and felicitation and for which he was thankful to Appa. An atheist by ideology in person but to the world a hero who filed a case against Periyar.

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