CHENNAI: Controversy surrounding writer Perumal Murugan's novel 'Mathorubhagan' continues as the Madras High Court has deferred grant of the prestigious Sahitya Akademi award to its English translation ('One Part Woman') till January 8, 2018.
"The court passed a limited interim order on Friday to the effect that grant of the Sahitya Akademi award 2016 to 'One Part Woman' is deferred till January 8," advocate SV Pravin Rathinam said.
Rathinam represented Kongu Kalvi Valarchi Arakattalai, the organisation which opposed conferring the award to the book in the high court.
According to Rathinam, a division bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and M Sundar passed the interim order.
This apart, notices have also been ordered to the Akademi, author Murugan and English translator Aniruddhan Vasudevan returnable by January 8.
"Our primary contention was that the English version of the novel was not an exact translation of the original Tamil book, which makes it ineligible for Sahitya Akademi award, as per Akademi rules," Rathinam said.
"According to the rules, the primary condition for considering a book for the award under the category is that it must be an exact translation of the original book. But it is not so in this case," he contended.
"Moreover, most of the jury members, who were in the panel which selected the novel for the award were earlier supporting the author of the novel, when it was criticised for controversies. This was also against the rules," Rathinam added.
Sahitya Akademi had announced the award to 'One Part Woman' in April this year.
All you need to know about the controversy behind the book so far
Set in the author’s native village of Tiruchengode, Tamil Nadu, 'One Part Woman' tells the story of Kali and Ponna, a married couple who try different means to conceive a child after facing constant taunts from the society.
Based on a possible ancient cultural practice among Tamil Hindus living around Tiruchengode in Tamil Nadu, the book faced a lot of controversy in 2014 and triggered debates about freedom of expression.
Groups called for a ban on the novel alleging that Murugan had hurt community sentiments, defamed women, and outraged religious feelings. Even criminal charges were filed against the author on the grounds of obscenity, spreading disharmony between communities, blasphemy, and defamation.
Murugan even agreed to issue an apology and remove the 'controversial' portions from book. He called it the 'death of a writer' and withdrew from social media and said he has given up writing.
In June 2016, the Madras HC passed a landmark judgement where it quashed the criminal case against him. The plea filed by residents of his hometown to initiate criminal proceedings against him was also dismissed.
Chief Justice S K Kaul had said, "Let the author be resurrected to what he is best at. Write."
(With Online desk inputs)