DMK leader Udhayanidhi Stalin, represented by his lawyer P. Wilson, told the Madras High Court on Tuesday that Article 25 which guarantees the right to practise and propagate religion, also “gives the right to people to practise and propagate atheism”.
Responding to the petition filed against Udhayanidhi by the Hindu Munnani Organisation for speaking against Sanatana Dharma, senior counsel Wilson told the court, “A certain ideology which is opposed to more than 100-year-old Dravidian ideology is attempting to use the court’s process to settle political and social questions.”
Senior lawyer T.V. Ramanujam, who represented the Hindu Munnani, told Justice Anita Sumanth that Udhayanidhi had violated Article 25. He stated, “I’m entitled to follow Sanatana Dharma, no one can call to eradicate it. He’s a minister. How can the state call for eradication? It is a gross violation of Article 25. He cannot commit fraud on the Constitution and try to escape. He should not be sitting in public office.”
Udhayanidhi’s lawyer Wilson argued that the same Article 25 also allowed an individual to be “rationalist and atheist”. He also pointed out that the petitioners relied on a book published by the Benares Hindu College to talk about Sanatana Dharma, and since the book was not approved by the majority of Hindus or followed by them, it doesn’t amount to violation of the Constitution.
According to LiveLaw, Wilson argued that the “statements made by Udhayanidhi were in favour of equality, abolition of caste discrimination, upliftment of backward classes, empowerment of women and equal treatment of women which was in furtherance of the fundamental duties and not against it”.
On September 2, Udhayanidhi speaking at a conference organised by the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers Artists Association in Chennai, had said, “Just like dengue, mosquitoes, malaria, or coronavirus need to be eradicated, we have to eradicate Sanatana.” He later clarified that he did not call for genocide as was being alleged by the BJP. The judge has posted the matter for further hearing on October 31.