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regular-article-logo Saturday, 13 April 2024

Supreme Court rebukes Tamil Nadu Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin over his 'eradicate Sanatan dharma' remark

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta told Stalin that he is a minister and should know the consequences of his remark

PTI New Delhi Published 04.03.24, 02:25 PM
Udhayanidhi Stalin

Udhayanidhi Stalin File picture

The Supreme Court on Monday rebuked Tamil Nadu Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin over his "eradicate Sanatan dharma" remark and asked why he has moved the court with his plea for clubbing together the FIRs filed against him after abusing his right to freedom of speech and expression.

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta told Stalin that being a minister he should have been careful with his statements and mindful of the possible consequences they could have.

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"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, the minister of youth welfare and sports of Tamil Nadu, is a well known film actor and son of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and ruling DMK chief M K Stalin.

Speaking at a conference in September 2023, Udhayanidhi Stalin had said Sanatana dharma is against social justice and equality and should be "eradicated'. Likening Sanatana dharma to coronavirus, malaria and dengue, he said it should be destroyed.

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.

Referring to apex court orders in cases involving journalist Arnab Goswami, BJP leader Nupur Sharma and some others, Singhvi said in all these the top court had agreed to club the FIRs.

"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 apex court said it will take it up on March 15 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, llikening 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.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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