Updated: March 25, 2022 6:44:43 pm
Days after he allegedly stopped Mohiniyattam performance of ace dancer Neena Prasad, Palakkad district judge Dr B Kalam Pasha on Friday said he was pained at the allegations that he “stopped the dance programme due to religious reasons”.
On March 19, when Prasad was staging Mohiniyattam at the Moyan Government LP School school compound adjacent to the official residence of the district judge and other judicial officers in Palakkad, Pasha, through police, had allegedly directed the organisers of the event to “reduce the volume of the show”. After the police intervened, the dancer and her troupe had to abruptly wind up the programme, which evoked widespread protest from civil society and lawyers.
Prasad, in her Facebook post, had stated that stopping the programme in such a manner was unprecedented in her professional life.
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On Wednesday, All India Lawyers Union and Palakkad District Bar Association had staged a protest at the court complex. Advocates sang poems and raised banners in protest against the district judge directive against the cultural programme, saying his directive was against the freedom of expression and speech enshrined in the Constitution.
Expressing his displeasure over the protest, Pasha on Friday wrote a letter to the district bar association, saying false news spread like wildfire and the bar members did not try to ascertain from the police what had actually transpired.
“I am fond of art and cultural programmes and I have studied carnatic music for six years and it would be out of context to say that I studied Bharatanatyam up to the stage of arangettam. With all this experience in art, it is painful to know that allegations are made that I stopped the dance programme through police due to religious reasons,” he said.
He said: “I understand that the public prosecutor was among the protesters. They were raising slogans on the court premises, disturbing the work. Their objections seem to be against me personally on the belief that I stopped a cultural function midway through police.”
The judge, who is the brother of retired High Court judge Kemal Pasha, said through his personal security officer, he had conveyed a message to the Palakkad Deputy Superintendent of Police to reduce the volume and the police officer acted in excess of what he said, leading to the whole issue. The protest would not have happened if they were aware of this, he said in the letter.
The judge also reminded the bar about a High Court verdict of 2002, which said: “No slogan shouting with or without the use of loud speakers shall be permitted within the vicinity of court premises, which would have the effect of disrupting or disturbing the working of the court premises.”
Advocate C P Pramode, president, All India Lawyers Union, said there was no contempt of court on the issue, as alleged by the judge. “We had raised slogans in the morning much before the court timings. Our protest was to safeguard the freedom of speech and expression enshrined in the Constitution. We haven’t given any religious angle to the issue,’’ he said.
Pramode said it was unbecoming on the part of the judge to give a direction to the police against the noise of the show. “The organisers had taken prior permission for the use of mike and there is ban on use of mike only after 9.30 pm. But, the event had to be stopped at 8 pm due to the intervention of the police at the behest of the judicial officer. The Mayan Government LP School in Palakkad has been a regular venue for such cultural events and no judicial officer living in the vicinity had so far raised such a complaint over noise,” Pramode said.
Neena Prasad said when the concert started at 8 pm, the organisers of the event informed me that the police wanted to stop the dance. “My troupe has members from various parts of Kerala and outside. We are staging a performance after several days of rehearsal. Does it mean that the cultural activities can be held only at the personal interest of judicial officers and bureaucrats? An artist’s life and workplace have to be understood with dignity,’’ she added.
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