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SC rebukes Tamil Nadu Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin over 'eradicate Sanatan dharma' remark: 'You abuse...'

Udhayanidhi Stalin had said Sanatan dharma is against social justice and equality and should be “eradicated”. He had likened Sanatan dharma to COVID, malaria and dengue and said that it should be destroyed.

Ashesh Mallick Edited By: Ashesh Mallick @asheshmallick07 New Delhi Updated on: March 04, 2024 16:39 IST
Supreme Court, Udhayanidhi Stalin, sanatan dharma remark, Tamil Nadu
Image Source : PTI Tamil Nadu Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin

The Supreme Court on Monday (March 4) rebuked Tamil Nadu Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin over his “eradicate Sanatan dharma” remark and said that he abused his right to freedom of speech and expression, and further asked why he has moved the court with his plea for clubbing together the FIRs filed against him.

What did the Supreme Court say?

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta told Stalin that he should have been mindful of the possible consequences of his remarks and should have been careful while making his statements.

"You abuse your right under Article 19(1)(a) (right to freedom of speech and expression of the Constitution). You abuse your right under Article 25 (freedom of conscience, the freedom to profess, practice, and propagate religion). Now you are exercising your right under Article 32 (to file plea in the Supreme Court directly)? Do you not know the consequences of what you said? You are not a layman. You are a minister. You should know the consequences," the bench said and adjourned the matter till March 15.

Udhayanidhi Stalin, a minister in the Tamil Nadu government, is a well-known film actor, also the son of Chief Minister MK Stalin.

What had Stalin said?

Addressing a conference in September 2023, Udhayanidhi Stalin had said Sanatan dharma is against social justice and equality and should be “eradicated”. He had likened Sanatana dharma to COVID, malaria and dengue and said that it should be destroyed.

Arguments in the SC

Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for Stalin, submitted he was not justifying his client's comments but only seeking consolidation of FIRs lodged against him over it in six states.

The top court then asked him to approach the high courts concerned.

"I'm not saying one word on merits (of the case), I'm not justifying or criticising. Let the merits of the case not affect the plea for clubbing of the FIRs," Singhvi said.

The SC said that it will hear the matter on March 15 again after going through the judgments and progress of trial in some of the FIRs.

On September 22 last year, the apex court had agreed to hear a plea by Chennai-based lawyer B Jagannath seeking registration of an FIR against Stalin and others who backed him, likening his comments to hate speech.

In his plea, Jagannath has sought direction to the Tamil Nadu police chief to immediately register a First Information Report (FIR) against the organisers of the conclave and those who allegedly made "hate speeches" there including ministers Udhayanidhi Stalin, PK Sekar Babu and others.

The petitioner has also urged the court to declare as unconstitutional the participation of state ministers in the event titled 'Sanatana Dharma Eradication' conference in Chennai on September 2, 2023.

(With PTI inputs)

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