Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa ensured the traditional dhoti remains unblemished by introducing a bill in the assembly to ensure that anyone wearing the garment is not denied entry in any club or institution.
The dhoti campaign took off when a Madras High Court judge was denied entry into the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association Club in Chennai last month, because he was wearing a dhoti, a common piece of attire that men wear in the state.
The Tamil Nadu Entry into Public Places (Removal of Restriction of Dress) Bill, 2014 threatens to cancel licenses of any club, company, society or association that violates the law and denies entry to a dhoti-clad person. Any establishment or person found responsible of violation could attract a penalty of ₹25,000 or a jail term of one year.
According to the Bill – "No person, wearing a veshti reflecting Tamil culture or any other Indian traditional dress, shall be denied entry into any public place, by reason only of his dress, provided that the dress shall be worn in a decent manner."
The Tamil Nadu Entry into Public Places (Removal of restriction of dress) Act, 2014, was declared passed by voice vote by Speaker P Dhanapal. It came into force immediately, the Press Trust of India reported.
The move comes about a month after the issue of denial of entry to the dhoti-clad judge led to an uproar in the Tamil Nadu assembly, with Opposition parties asking for proper legal action against the club for the 'injustice" towards Tamilians.
Madras high court judge Justice D Hariparanthaman along with two other advocates had visited the club for a book-release function, but were not let in because of their traditional attire.
"Dhoti-clad Tamils had made significant contributions in sending out colonial rulers 67 years ago. Today, not only TNCA club, even other clubs in Chennai do not allow entry for dhoti-clad persons, including Madras Gymkhana Club, MCC and Boat Club," DMK leader MK Stalin told The Times of India.
The statement of reasons and objects of the bill read: "It was brought to the notice of the government that some clubs are denying entry to persons wearing dhoti or any Indian traditional dress into public areas under their control of management on the ground that they are not wearing dress or apparels in keeping with the western culture. It has become imperative in the context of happening in the past to remove such restriction".