The Madras High Court’s recent circular limits court portraits to Gandhi and Thiruvalluvar, raising debates on symbolism and inclusivity.
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The Madras High Court’s recent circular has sparked debate as it restricts the display of portraits in courtrooms of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. The circular permits only portraits of Mahatma Gandhi and revered Tamil poet-saint Thiruvalluvar, excluding those of Dr. B R Ambedkar, the architect of India’s Constitution. This move has raised questions about the court’s intent to maintain an apolitical environment while potentially dismissing Ambedkar’s significant contributions.
Court’s Circular and Historical Context
The circular, communicated to all district courts in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, stems from a full bench meeting of the High Court on April 11, 2023. However, it builds upon past resolutions, particularly those from 2010 and 2013. In 2010, the court decided to prohibit additional statues on court campuses to prevent friction and law and order issues arising from damage to national leaders’ statues. This stance was reaffirmed in 2013, further solidifying the court’s position on symbols within court premises.
Resurfaced Contention and Reiteration
The issue resurfaced in April 2023 when advocate associations requested permission to display portraits of Dr. B R Ambedkar. The court, in response, reiterated its previous resolutions and unequivocally declared that only portraits of Gandhi and Thiruvalluvar would be allowed within court premises. The directive applies to all judges and judicial magistrates in the state, emphasizing the court’s commitment to this resolution.
Maintaining an Apolitical Environment
The explicit emphasis on a limited set of portraits reflects the court’s endeavor to create an apolitical environment within court premises. By regulating the choice of symbols, the court aims to preempt any potential contention arising from the display of a broader range of portraits. However, this decision has raised concerns about the exclusion of Dr. B R Ambedkar, given his pivotal role as the architect of India’s Constitution.
A Contradictory Order on Ambedkar Portraits
Interestingly, a contradictory order on Ambedkar portraits emerged from the Madras High Court in August 2022. Justice G R Swaminathan, of the Madurai bench, directed the installation of Ambedkar’s portraits in all government law colleges in Tamil Nadu. Justice Swaminathan cited Ambedkar’s symbolic significance and unparalleled scholarship, highlighting his potential to inspire law students. This contradictory order further adds complexity to the ongoing debate.
Balancing Symbols and Values
The court’s decision on portraits sparks introspection on the delicate balance between symbolism and inclusivity. While it seeks to preserve an apolitical atmosphere, questions arise regarding the representation of historical figures and their contributions to the nation. Addressing these concerns requires thoughtful consideration to ensure that symbols in courtrooms reflect the diverse values and ideals cherished by the Indian society.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What does the recent circular from the Madras High Court state?
The circular restricts the display of portraits in courtrooms of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, permitting only portraits of Mahatma Gandhi and Thiruvalluvar, excluding those of Dr. B R Ambedkar.
- What historical context does the circular build upon?
The circular is based on past resolutions from 2010 and 2013, which aimed to prevent friction and law and order issues by prohibiting the installation of additional statues on court campuses.
- Why did the issue resurface in April 2023?
Advocate associations requested permission to display portraits of Dr. B R Ambedkar, leading to the court’s reiteration of its previous resolutions.
- What is the court’s motive behind the explicit emphasis on a limited set of portraits?
The court aims to maintain an apolitical environment within court premises and preempt possible contention by regulating the choice of symbols.
- What was the contradictory order on Ambedkar portraits?
Justice G R Swaminathan, of the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court, directed the installation of Ambedkar’s portraits in all government law colleges in Tamil Nadu, citing his symbolic significance and scholarship.
- How can the court strike a balance between symbolism and inclusivity?
Addressing concerns over representation requires thoughtful consideration to ensure that symbols in courtrooms reflect the diverse values and ideals cherished by the Indian society.