Court Trashes Plea Seeking Removal of ‘Mahatma’ From Gandhi on Notes, Imposes Fine of Rs 10,000 on Litigant

The Madras High Court on Monday imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on a litigant who had filed a plea seeking the removal of the word ‘Mahatma’, which means a great soul in English, from MK Gandhi’s name from Indian currency notes. The court said that the public interest litigation was a waste of court’s precious time.

It must be noted that Indian currency notes bear the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi’s name, photo and water-mark.

The court observed that their was no merit in the case and such litigation clogged judicial business and waste court’s valuable time. The litigant, S Muruganantham, a research scholar, had pleaded that the use of the word was in violation of Articles 14 and 18 of the Constitution. The court didn’t concur with the litigant.

Pointing out that it was Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore who first described Gandhiji as Mahatma, the judges said such a description could not be considered to be a title in the strict sense. “There is no whisper in the petitioner’s affidavit as to how equality under Article 14 has been violated by printing the photograph of Gandhiji describing him as Mahatma. “It is not a title as envisaged in Article 18… In any case, it is not known as to how public interest would be affected by describing Gandhiji as Mahatma,” the Hindu reported.

“We reiterate that there is no infringement of public interest by describing Gandhiji as Mahatma. It is reiterated that the State has not conferred any title… We not only dismiss this petition but also impose costs of Rs. 10,000 on the petitioner to be paid to the Registrar General for wasting the time of this court,” the Bench added.

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