BJP’s IT Wing head Amit Malviya has moved the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court seeking to quash an FIR registered by the Tiruchy police, accusing him of inciting violence by misinterpreting Tamil Nadu Sports Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin’s statement on Sanatana Dharma.
In the petition filed on Tuesday, 3 October, Malviya stated that the complaint was politically motivated and his comments on Udhayanidhi’s remarks were within the ambit of the Freedom of Speech guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.
Pointing out Udhayanidhi’s speech at a conference in Chennai in September, Malviya said that the intention of the Tamil Nadu minister was clear and his speech was against the sentiments of the majority of the people who follow the Hindu religion.
He further prayed the court to quash the FIR filed against him.
Admitting the petition, Justice G Ilangovan, sought a reply from the police and adjourned the case.
Based on a complaint by the Tiruchy South DMK convener Advocate KAV Dhinakaran, the Tiruchy City Crime Branch police had registered an FIR against Malviya.
The case was registered under various sections, including Sections 153 (whoever deliberately or wantonly causes or provokes any riot through illegal means), 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), and 505 (1) (b) (with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the state or public tranquility) of the IPC.
Udhayanidhi Stalin, son of Tamilnadu CM MK Stalin, and a minister in the DMK Govt, has linked Sanatana Dharma to malaria and dengue… He is of the opinion that it must be eradicated and not merely opposed. In short, he is calling for genocide of 80% population of Bharat, who… pic.twitter.com/4G8TmdheFo
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) September 2, 2023
Pointing out Malviya’s tweet, the complainant said that even though Udhayanidhi clarified his remarks, the BJP IT Wing chief was peddling fake news and trying to incite violence between communities.
In his speech, Udhayanidhi Stalin had said, “Only a few things can be resisted. Some have to be eliminated. In that sense, even Sanatana must be eliminated. We cannot resist mosquitoes, dengue, or coronavirus. They must be eliminated. In that sense, even Sanatana must be eliminated.”
What sparked the controversy?
Udhayanidhi recently blamed Sanatana Dharma for promoting division and discrimination among people and said that it should be eradicated.
At a conference on “Abolition of Sanatana” in Chennai on 2 September, organised by the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association, Udhayanidhi said, “Few things cannot be opposed, they should be abolished.”
He added, “We can’t oppose dengue, mosquitoes, malaria or corona. We have to eradicate them. In the same way, we have to eradicate Sanatana, rather than oppose it.”
He also said that the word Sanatanam was derived from Sanskrit, that it was against equality and social justice, and that it had been a hindrance to society.
DMK MP A Raja later added fuel to the fire by describing Udhayanidhi’s comments as too mild and declaring the Sanatana was like HIV and leprosy.
Matter in the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court on, 27 September, had tagged with an earlier matter a new petition by a Delhi-based lawyer seeking the registration of an FIR against Udhayanidhi Stalin and MPs A Raja of the DMK, and Tholkappiyan Thirumavalavan of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, or VCK, for their remarks calling for the eradication of Sanatana Dharma.
Tagging the plea with the already pending matter, Justice Aniruddha Bose — heading a bench also comprising Justice Bela M Trivedi — however, did not issue a notice on the plea.
The Additional Advocate General (AAG) of the Tamil Nadu government opposed the plea, saying these petitions were “publicity interest litigations”.
There are 40 writ petitions filed across the country in different high courts for publicity, and this was making things incredibly difficult for the state, the AAG told the bench.
“Everyone is filing PILs for publicity. They will go to the media and circulate these,” the bench said.
The Supreme Court on 22 September, on a petition by a Chennai-based lawyer, issued notice to Udhayanidhi Stalin and others.
The court sought their reply on the plea seeking action against them for their remarks calling for the eradication of the Sanatana Dharma. A notice was also issued to the Union home secretary.