In its resolve to put an end to the "colonial mindset" of elite clubs and others in banning entry of people wearing traditional attire "dhoti", Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday introduced a bill in the state assembly, which seeks to make such practices a cognisable offence.
Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa introduced the Tamil Nadu Entry into Public Places (Removal of Restriction on Dress) Act 2014, fulfilling her promise to enact a legislation to remove dress code restrictions imposed by recreation clubs, hotels and stadiums among other public places after recent denial of entry by a club to a dhoti-clad judge triggered an outrage.
Through this legislation the government seeks to declare as "null and void" any regulation or by-law made by any recreation club, association, trust, company or society denying entry to any person wearing a vesthi (dhoti), reflecting the Tamil Nadu culture or any other Indian traditional dress, the bill stated.
The bill comes against the backdrop of denial of entry to a judge of the Madras high court last month by the TNCA Club in the city which triggered off widespread condemnation with various political parties terming it as a colonial mindset and calling for ending such restrictions.
It envisaged that no dress code restrictions can be imposed for entry into public places -- recreation clubs, hotels, theatres, malls, halls, auditoriums, stadiums and such other places as may be notified by the government, where people including members congregate in connection with any function, event, entertainment, sports or other activity.
The bill provides for penal action against those who violates this law including cancellation of licence after notice, besides punishment with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and with a fine up to Rs 25,000.
"In order to preserve our culture, custom and heritage, the government has decided to remove the restriction imposed on persons wearing vesthi (dothi) reflecting Tamil Culture or any Indian traditional dress for entry into public places", the provision of the legislation read.
The imposition of restriction on persons for entry into public places on the ground that their dress does not conform to Western culture would amount to continuation of the Colonial imperialistic attitude, the bill stated.