New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday agreed to hear a plea seeking registration of an FIR against Tamil Nadu minister Udhayanidhi Stalin and others over his “eradicate Sanatan Dharma” remark, which the petitioner likened to hate speech.
A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi issued notices on the petition filed by Chennai-based lawyer B Jagannath who said the apex court has passed several directions, including for registration of FIR, in similar cases.
Senior advocate Dama Seshadri Naidu, appearing for the petitioner, alleged Udhayanidhi asked school students to say Sanatan Dharma was not good while other religions were.
“I would understand if an individual rants against a particular community or faith of a group of people. But it causes concern when the State unleashes its machinery,” the lawyer said.
Udhayanidhi, also a well-known film actor, is the son of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and ruling DMK chief M K Stalin.
When the bench asked him why did he not approach the Madras High Court with the petition, Naidu said, “This court has taken note of similar matters where individuals make such a statement against another’s faith but in this case it is a minister making the statement. Here it is State which is telling the school students that so and so religion is wrong.”
Naidu claimed circulars have been issued asking students to speak against a particular faith. He said the question is can a constitutional authority make such speeches.
“These are impermissible. A batch of petitions has already been admitted and 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. I was compelled to approach the court as he is a minister, and when we went to register FIR, no one registered it,” the lawyer said.
Responding to a query by the bench, the senior lawyer said he is seeking a restraining order against Udhayanidhi Stalin to prevent him from making any such statement in the future and registration of an FIR. He said the petitioner also wanted students to be kept out of the controversy.
“Although we are issuing notice, you are turning the Supreme Court into a police station by approaching it for registration of FIR. You should have gone to the high court,” the bench told the lawyer.
Naidu sought tagging of the plea with the pending petitions related to hate speeches, a prayer which the court disallowed.
In his plea filed through advocate G Balaji, the petitioner 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 the state ministers in the event titled ‘Sanatana Dharma Eradication’ conference in Chennai on September 2, 2023.
He has sought a direction from the court to the higher education department of the Tamil Nadu government to ban holding of events against ‘Hindu Dharma’ at all secondary schools.
The petition said it would have been a welcome step if the conference was called to eradicate casteism and other ills plaguing a religion. It deplored that no FIR has been filed against Udhayanidhi Stalin, Sekar Babu or the organisers of the event despite the uproar caused by the remarks of the youth welfare and sports development minister which shows “bias, favouritism and discrimination”.