CHENNAI: A division bench of the Madras High Court has refused to remove the inscriptions — there is no God, the inventors and preachers are fools and rogues and those who worship God are barbarians — at the pedestals of Periyar statues across the State.
Periyar believed in what he said and there is nothing wrong in having his views inscribed on the statues, a bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad said and added they have no hesitation to conclude that the writing and speeches of Periyar cannot be curtailed. There is nothing wrong in “one expressing his views on religion and the existence of God”, the bench said.
The bench was dismissing a PIL filed by M Deivanayagam, praying for a directive to the State Chief Secretary to remove the “offensive” words at the bottom of Periyar’s statues. He contended that Periyar had always advocated self-respect and not atheism and this was ascertainable through his words and deeds.
When Periyar was alive, on September 17, 1967, his statue was unveiled at Tiruchi bus-stand by the then Chief Minister CN Annadurai, in the presence of Kundrakudi Adigalar and Kamarajar.
The same does not contain any principle of atheism. After the demise of Periyar on December 18, 1973, the DK party headed by K Veeramani started propagating atheism as the principle of Periyar and it has started to create statues having inscriptions — there is no God, God doesn’t exist. Periyar had not uttered such words during his lifetime. He had never uttered the words, inscribed below the statue, it was Veeramani, who made the inscriptions, petitioner contended.
In their 68-page order, the bench said from the speeches and expressions of Periyar from 1928, one can clearly conclude that it was Periyar’s philosophy and ideology, which became the self-respect movement, and later on, a party.
The contention of the petitioner that everything was done by Veeramani only after the demise of Periyar, was contrary to the facts and cannot be accepted. Periyar’s propagation of the philosophy of self-respect, social reform, ending caste system, equal rights and to establish a society of brotherhood could never be found fault with. According to Periyar, belief in God was the sole reason for inequalities, the judges said.
A reading of the material enclosed in the typed set of papers reflect Periyar’s thought and expression on God, religion, caste and such other issues. He was known for atheism. The speeches and writings of Periyar are explicit.
Going through the entire material on record, the bench said Veeramani had every right under the Constitution to fight for social justice in eradicating inequality, right for upliftment of women and downtrodden people, express views on religion and existence of God, the bench said.