Sanatana Dharma row: Madras HC refuses to remove DMK ministers

“Making unverified claims on Sanatana Dharma tantamount to spreading misinformation,” said the court while refusing to issue orders to remove Udhayanidhi Stalin and PK Sekar Babu, and MP A Raja.
Udhayanidhi Stalin
Udhayanidhi Stalin
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In a major relief to the Tamil Nadu government, the Madras High Court, on Wednesday, March 6, refused to issue a writ of quo warranto seeking to remove Ministers Udhayanidhi Stalin, PK Sekar Babu and MP A Raja, in the Sanatan Dharma remark case. However, the court pulled up the ministers and said that they should not have made such remarks, as they hold Constitutional provisions and that it was similar to spreading misinformation. 

Justice Anita Sumanth was hearing a batch of quo warranto pleas filed by Hindu Munnani office bearers T Manohar, Kishore Kumar, and VP Jayakumar. Quo warranto can be issued by the courts to question the authority of public officeholders.

According to a LiveLaw report, the judge said that Udhayanidhi’s comments equating Sanatana Dharma to Malaria and Dengue were ‘perverse’ and ‘against the constitutional mandate’. The court also criticised Sekar Babu, who is the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Minister, for attending a meeting on the eradication of Sanatana Dharma.

The HC observed that even if there are ideological differences between political leaders, all public statements should be constructive and not destructive. "Those holding constitutional positions can propound only one principle. And that is the principle of constitutionalism. Making unverified claims on Sanatana Dharma tantamounts to spreading misinformation," the judge said.

Justice Sumanth said that while the petition against Udhayanidhi was maintainable, a writ of quo warranto cannot be issued as no action under law has been taken against the minister that can cause him to be disqualified.

The Sanatana Dharma controversy erupted in connection to events that occurred in September 2023 at the Sanatanam (Sanatan Dharma) Abolition Conclave organised by the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers Forum. Speaking at the event, Udhayanidhi compared Sanatana Dharma to dengue, malaria, and COVID-19, and called for it to be eradicated. His words went viral, leading to a national-level controversy. Several petitions have since been filed against the minister at the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court. Soon after this, MP A Raja made a comment likening Sanatana Dharma to HIV, AIDS, which triggered a fresh row.

Hindu Munnani, in their petition, said that the Ministers and MP had taken an oath to serve the citizens without any bias and personal likes and dislikes but acted against it by participating in a meeting that called for the eradication of Sanatana Dharma. The petition said that the Ministers and MP had violated the fundamental duties of the Constitution under Article 51-A (c) (to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India) and (e) (to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities).

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