CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill making enforcing dress code and banning entry of persons wearing ‘dhoti’ in public places a cognisable offence punishable with jail term.
The House adopted the Tamil Nadu Entry into Public Places (Removal of Restriction on Dress) Act 2014 after chief minister J Jayalalithaa moved it for consideration and passing.
It empowers the state to cancel the licences of such clubs, recreation associations, trusts and company or society denying entry to any person wearing a ‘vesthi’ (dhoti), traditional attire of men in the state.
The legislation, enacted against the backdrop of denial of entry to a Madras high court judge and two advocates recently by a prominent cricket club here, also seeks to declare any regulation or by-law made by any organization imposing a dress code as “null and void”. The violators of the act will attract penal action, including cancellation of licence after notice, besides punishment with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and with a fine upto Rs 25,000.
No dress code restrictions can be imposed for entry into public places like 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 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, one of the provisio of the bill stated.
At the height of the controversy over denial of entry to the Judge last month, Jayalalithaa had asserted that a bill banning such dress code would be introduced and passed in the current budget session of the assembly itself.