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Supreme Court expresses disappointment at DMK leader Udhayanidhi Stalin for his remarks on Sanatana Dharma

The Supreme Court on Monday expressed disappointment at DMK leader Udhayanidhi Stalin for his remarks about Sanatana Dharma.

A bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta was hearing a petition lodged by Udhayanidhi Stalin seeking to club the first information reports (FIR) registered in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka over the DMK leader’s controversial remarks.

During the hearing, Justice Dipankar Datta told Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for Udhayanidhi Stalin that the leader had abused his Article 19(1)(a) and Article 25 right. The bench further questioned whether the leader knew the consequences of what he had said. The bench noted that the DMK leader is now exercising Article 32 right.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, clarifying that he is not justifying Stalin’s remarks, noted that he is facing FIRs in six states and is only seeking to consolidate them. When the top court  bench advised the petitioner to move the concerned high courts, Singhvi replied that he has to move six high courts, and will constantly be tied up in this. This is persecution before the prosecution, he added. 

Consecutively, Justice Dipankar Datta expressed his disapproval of the petitioner’s comments again. He remarked that the petitioner is not a layman but a minister and that he should know the consequences.

Relying on the orders passed by the Supreme Court in the cases of Amish Devgan, Arnab Goswami, Nupur Sharma and Mohammed Zubair allowing the consolidation of FIRs in multiple states, the Senior Advocate stated that he is only seeking the very same relief.

When the bench questioned why a witness in a complaint in Jammu and Kashmir be asked to go to some other jurisdiction, Singhvi echoed his reliance on the earlier cases. The Senior Advocate stated that in the Nupur Sharma case, the Court granted the relief of consolidation of the FIRs, despite the highly provocative nature of the comments. He also pointed out that the cause of action in the FIRs was the same, emanating from the Tamil Nadu minister’s remarks. 

Mentioning Section 177 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, he argued that territoriality was the heart of criminal jurisdiction. Following much persuasion by Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the bench ultimately agreed to examine the plea and scheduled it to next Friday, asking Singhvi to place on record the precedents.

DMK leader and son of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, Udhayanidhi Stalin, came under the scanner in September last year 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.

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