Ranganayakamma's Reply to the lawyer's notice in a defamation case
Mr. K.S.Sankara Rao,
Received your registered letter dated 6th January, 1982. I have gone through all the contents of your letter, which you wrote to me on behalf of Mr. Kommuri Venugopala Rao.
You have stated that I have caused damage to the reputation of your client and hence I have to tender apology to him or else he would file a case against me.
My answer to your charge is that if his reputation was really damaged, it was not due to me; his reputation was damaged by his own conduct.
It is not me who should tender apology to him but he alone should tender apology to the Telugu reading public.
You have stated that your client is a reputed person both as a doctor who has the clinical experience for sixteen years and as a writer who has much more experience.
It is exactly because of his so much experience as a doctor and a writer, his act amounts to a great blunder.
The novel "TULASI DALAM" is a book that causes terrible harm to the reading public. The writer of this book tried to spread further the superstitious belief of "Chetabadi" by creating a theme according to which a little girl falls sick due to "Chetabadi" and recovers from the sickness slowly due to the foil of "Chetabadi" at the last moment. In order to prove that the sickness of the girl is not due to ill health, the writer repeatedly emphasizes that none of the clinical investigations in the medical science could make a diagnosis. Throughout the book, he glorified evil spirits, exorcisms, evil practices of witchery, violence, crime and disgusting superstitious beliefs. Some young men and women were mislead as a result of reading this novel. One daily paper reported that one young man turned mad. (See the report in Andhra Prabha daily dated 21-11-1981 which says: "A young man named Mr. P. Srinivasa Rao turned mad due to the influence of Tulasidalam written by Yandamuri Veerendranath"). Based on the way to commit suicide as described in this novel, a young woman named "Jyoti" at Vijayawada committed suicide in the same manner. The fact that the book contains a trend which could cause evil impact can be easily perceived by those who have a correct social awareness. It is known to all that what sort of thing your client, being a doctor and a writer, has done by resorting to write a preface to such a harmful book. Your client could see only the writer who asked him to write a preface but not its readers. To start with, your client expressed the opinion that the writer writes well by merely hearing the name of the writer (and not by actually reading any of his works). The moment he patted the writer uncritically to go on successfully in the same direction by ignoring totally his own experiences as a doctor and a writer, your client has become a criminal in the literary world. He is also responsible for the harm that the book causes to the readers since he behaved irresponsibly and dishonestly towards the reading public.
Any person or any reader concerned with the literary world has the right to accuse your client as to why he has resorted to such a harmful action. I utilized my right as a reader. Whatever words I used in my article whether it be "…." Or "…." Or any other word, they only refer to the nature of his action. I did this as I was concerned with the interests of the readers and wanted to protect them by explaining the harmful contents of the book and its preface. In addition to the writer of the book, I also criticized your client who wrote the preface. I criticized the publisher of that book too. Likewise, I criticised, not only his book, but also some other books which cause harm to the readers. I did this only in the interest of the readers so as to do good to them and not with any malice on or personal rivalry with your client or any other person. I have not done this for my selfish ends.
Had he not written such a harmful preface, your client would not have been subjected to this kind of criticism.
The way to counter a criticism is to make a counter criticism and prove faults in it if there are any.
Your client can place his reply before the readers proving as to how my criticism damaged his reputation; where I made false statements in my criticism; where I attributed words and deeds which he has not said and done and why my argument is humiliating. The same forum which gave me an opportunity will give him too. If his reply is at least reasonable, I shall immediately tender public apology in the press.
You have stated that your client would claim a compensation for Rs.20,000. If one would like to measure the value of every aspect of life in terms of money, even prestige and reputation too seems to have prices. If your client, who has priced his reputation, measures his disrepute action in terms of money, it would be several times in minus quantity. When his reputation is deducted from the defamation still more abundant disrepute remains. Since he has committed an act by which he lost his reputation and retained disrepute, he himself should also commit an act by which he can regain his reputation. To achieve this end, there is no other way except self-criticism.
Realizing his mistake genuinely, repenting for that and apologizing to the reading public constitutes the first way.
To realise the mistake, to keep quite by accepting the criticism and to abide by it is the second way.
Leaving the literary world and dragging the critics into the court is the last method.
In this special context, the last method is bad and the first one is great.
The moment a person corrects his mistake, he equals with the one who has not done the mistake.
Your client should retain his prestige by correcting the mistake; but he cannot regain it by filing a case against the critic in the court and claiming 20 thousands.