Sanatana Dharma Row | Supreme Court Issues Notice To Tamil Nadu Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a plea seeking the registration of a first information report (FIR) against Tamil Nadu minister and DMK leader Udhayanidhi Stalin over his controversial remarks about 'Sanatana Dharma'. Besides this, the petition also raised concerns about a 'Sanatana Dharma Eradication Conference', where these remarks were allegedly made by the minister sparking...
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a plea seeking the registration of a first information report (FIR) against Tamil Nadu minister and DMK leader Udhayanidhi Stalin over his controversial remarks about 'Sanatana Dharma'. Besides this, the petition also raised concerns about a 'Sanatana Dharma Eradication Conference', where these remarks were allegedly made by the minister sparking a political controversy.
The Court issued notice to the respondents in the petition, including the State of Tamil Nadu and Udhayanidhi Stalin.
A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi was hearing a writ petition filed by a Chennai-based lawyer B Jagannath seeking a direction enjoining Stalin and others from making further remarks about 'Sanatana Dharma', and a declaration that the September 2 conference in Tamil Nadu, organised by the Tamil Nadu Murpoku Ezuthalar Sangam, was unconstitutional. Filed through Advocate-on-Record Gopalan Balaji, the petition argues that the conference had a deliberate agenda to target Hinduism and propagate hatred by employing offensive and derogatory language.
Right at the outset of today's hearing, Justice Bose advised Senior Advocate Dama Seshadri Naidu, appearing for the petitioner, to approach the high court with this prayer. But the senior counsel persisted in his demand for the Supreme Court's intervention, pointing to the interim relief granted by the court in other applications seeking action against hate speech. He argued -
"I would understand if an individual rants against a particular community or group of people. But, it is concerning when the State unleashes its machinery. Circulars have been issued directing students to speak against a particular faith. Can a constitutional authority make such speeches? These are impermissible. A batch of petitions has already been admitted, I should not be asked to go to the high court now. The court has issued interim directions earlier when it came to individuals. Here, I am concerned with the State."
Even though the bench initially expressed its disinclination to entertain the petition, it eventually accepted the senior counsel's appeals to issue notice. The court, however, refused to tag the matter with the clutch of petitions on hate speech at this stage. In parting, Justice Bose also expressed his disapproval of litigants directly approaching the Supreme Court. "Why can you not go to the high court? You are converting us into a police station," the judge exclaimed.
Udhayanidhi Stalin, DMK leader and son of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, came under the scanner earlier this month for his remarks comparing 'Sanatana Dharma' to diseases like 'malaria' and 'dengue' while advocating for its elimination on grounds that it was rooted in the caste system and historical discrimination. Not only did this trigger a major political row, but also led to several criminal complaints being filed against Udhayanidhi as well as pleas being filed in the Supreme Court seeking action against him.
In the present petition, a direction has been sought for the registration of an FIR against Udhayanidhi. The petitioner has further questioned why the Tamil Nadu police has not appointed any nodal officers in terms of the 2018 Tehseen Poonawalla judgment, despite the specific mandate of the court's ruling. Besides praying for action against Udhayanidhi for his alleged hate speech, the petitioner has also sought the appointment of a nodal officer. Additionally, he has prayed for an explanation from the Director General of Police on why police permission was given to the organisers and why no steps were taken against them. The plea has called for immediate investigations by the home secretary and the CBI director into the event's background and funding sources. Not only this, the petitioner has also urged the Tamil Nadu Higher Education Department not to host Sanatana Dharma-related events in secondary schools.
Notably, four cases have been moved in the Supreme Court, all seeking action against DMK leader Udaynidhi Stalin. Two of these were interlocutory applications filed in a case relating to hate speech which is currently being heard by a bench headed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna.
Case : B Jagannath v. The State of Tamil Nadu| W.P.(C) No. 1001/2023