Supreme Court rebukes Udhayanidhi Stalin for remarks on Sanatana Dharma

Several cases were registered against Tamil Nadu’s Sports Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin last year, for equating Sanatana Dharma with diseases like malaria and dengue.
Tamil Nadu Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin
Tamil Nadu Minister Udhayanidhi StalinFile Photo/Facebook
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The Supreme Court, on Monday, March 4, slammed Tamil Nadu Sports Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin for his comments against Sanatana Dharma. The court expressed displeasure that he was ‘abusing his rights’. A bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta was hearing a plea filed by Udhayanidhi seeking to club the first information reports (FIR) against him, registered in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka. 

According to Livelaw, while hearing the plea, Justice Datta told Udhayanidhi’s counsel senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, “You abuse your Article 19(1)(a) right. You abuse your Article 25 right. Now you are exercising your Article 32 right? Do you not know the consequences of what you said?" Article 19(1)(a) pertains to free speech and Article 25 is freedom of conscience. The judge further said, “You are not a layman. You are a minister. You should know the consequences.”

Singhvi said that Udhayanidhi was not justifying his comments but was just seeking to club the FIRs filed in six states. As the bench asked him to move the high courts, the counsel contended that he will have to move six high high courts and remarked, “This is persecution before the prosecution." The bench agreed to take up the matter and posted it for hearing on March 15.

Minister Udhayanidhi, who is also the son of Chief Minister MK Stalin, triggered a row last year by equating Sanatana Dharma with diseases like dengue and malaria.

“Sanatanam is like malaria and dengue. It must be eradicated and not merely opposed,” Udhayanidhi said. He said that Sanatana Dharma was against the idea of social justice. The minister made these remarks while speaking at the Sanatanam (Sanatan Dharma) Abolition Conclave organised by the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers Forum. Subsequently, a petition was filed at the SC seeking to file a criminal case against Udhayanidhi.

It may be recalled that a bench comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi in September 2023 had issued notice on a plea seeking directions for registration of an FIR against Udhayanidhi and the organisers of the 'Sanatana Dharma Abolition Conclave'. 

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