In response to legal challenges regarding his remarks on Sanatana Dharma, Tamil Nadu Youth Welfare and Sports Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin appeared before the Madras High Court. He clarified his position, stating that he holds great respect for all religions and has no intention of belittling or disrespecting any of them. Minister Udhayanidhi explained that his concerns centered around discriminatory religious practices.
During the court proceedings, Senior Advocate P Wilson represented Udhayanidhi and emphasized his role as a torchbearer of the Dravidian movement. Udhayanidhi asserted that the Dravidian principles he advocates promote self-respect, equality, rational thought, and brotherhood. He argued that the petitioners, associated with a party linked to the BJP, were attempting to turn the court into a platform for political and social debates without any legal basis.
Udhayanidhi addressed Article 25 of the Constitution, highlighting that it not only guarantees the right to practice and profess religion but also encompasses freedom of conscience. He contended that this Article extends beyond the freedom to believe in a god to include the freedom not to believe in a god and the right to profess atheism.
In response to allegations about his appointment, Udhayanidhi maintained that he had not violated the Constitution or the Representation of Peoples Act. He explained that even if allegations were made, an elected MLA does not lose their membership solely based on the registration of an FIR. Udhayanidhi stressed that differing views should not disqualify an individual from holding a ministerial office, as it would infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression.
Regarding the petitioners’ reliance on a book from the Benares Hindu College to discuss Sanatana Dharma, Udhayanidhi argued that the book lacked the status of custom or usage and had not received approval from the majority of Hindu sects. Thus, it could not be elevated to the status of a violation of constitutional provisions. He contended that the petitioners’ reliance on this book aimed to regress society to an era where gender and caste discrimination prevailed, lower-caste individuals were marginalized, and women were treated unfairly.
Udhayanidhi addressed fundamental duties, emphasizing that they are non-justiciable and not enforceable in court. He argued that his statements align with the principles of equality, caste discrimination eradication, backward class upliftment, women’s empowerment, and equal treatment of women, all of which are consistent with fundamental duties.
Concluding that the petition was politically motivated, Udhayanidhi urged the court to dismiss it. The matter has been adjourned to October 31 for further arguments.