Madras Judge denied access to club

CHENNAI: It could go down as the worst publicity for dhoti, considered a ‘national attire’ in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. A sitting judge of the Madras high court was denied entry into the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association Club at Chepauk on Friday. Reason: He was wearing a dhoti.

When Justice D Hariparanthaman alighted from his red beacon-flashing official car at the club premises to participate in a book release function organized by a former high court judge, he was least prepared for the ‘reception’, sources told The Times of India.

When TOI contacted, Justice Hariparanthaman confirmed the incident and said: “Former acting chief justice of the Madras high court Justice T S Arunachalam authored a book — ‘Legal Fraternity Embraced Me’. Former chief justice of the Gujarat high court Justice Gokula Krishnan released it and former Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh high court Justice R Ratnam received the first copy. I was invited. I went to the venue at 5.25pm. I wore dhoti and shirt. I was denied entry saying unless I wear pants, I could not be permitted entry.” Office-bearers of the club did not respond to calls and text messages from TOI.

“A club clerk and guard informed me that I would not be allowed to enter the premises as I am wearing a dhoti. They told me they had clear instructions from the office-bearers that their rules did not permit anyone wearing anything other than the prescribed dress. I politely told them that it is alright for a club to have a dress code for its members. But it cannot be imposed on guests visiting the premises at the invitation of members. Otherwise, the club should not give permission for functions involving non-members. But it was of no use, as they could not decide,” said Justice Hariparanthaman.

“The British rulers prescribed dress codes in the clubs started by them. It is very unfortunate that even after Independence, the same dress code is being continued in the clubs, and our traditional dress is prohibited,” Justice Hariparanthaman lamented.

Two other senior advocates — R Gandhi and G R Swaminathan — too suffered similar reception. When asked about the incident, Gandhi said at least five clubs in the city — Gymkhana Club, Madras Club, Boat Club, Madras Cricket Club and Tamil Nadu Cricket Association Club — still had rules denying entry for people wearing dhoti.

“The Tamil national dress is not respected in these places. But, on Friday evening I did not protest because the function was organized by friends and many of the office-bearers of the club too are my friends. I did not want to make an issue of it,” Gandhi said.

In 1980s, eminent jurist and former Supreme Court judge Justice V R Krishna Iyer too faced the same ignominy in a club. An angry Justice Iyer wrote in the visitor’s book that he was an Indian and he was proud to wear dhoti. Describing the denial as a shame, he said he would never ditch the dhoti for another dress to enter the premises.

Source: Times of India

About Naufal Khan

Naufal Khan was the Publisher at ADISHAKTI MEDIA and the editor-in-chief of the South African Indian news service Indian Spice. Khan was former Sunday Times journalist and also an occult fiction and non-fiction writer with several published titles.