On Tuesday (September 5), 262 eminent citizens, including retired Justices, armed force veterans, former ambassadors, and bureaucrats wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY ChandraChud regarding Udhayanidhi Stalin’s recent remark where he compared Sanatan Dharma with diseases and called for its eradication.
In the letter, these eminent citizens have requested the CJI to take the suo moto cognisance of hate speech by the son of Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin. The letter states that his speech could incite communal disharmony and sectarian violence in the country.
Notably, the list includes 14 retired judges including Former Chief Justice of Telangana High Court K Sreedhar Rao; 130 bureaucrats out of which 20 had served as ambassadors and 118 armed forces officers.
Drawing attention to the incident, the 262 eminent citizens have emphasised that the remarks and subsequent developments have caused “anguish in the hearts and minds of common citizens of India” and it has hurt the sentiments of those who believe in Sanatan Dharma.
Highlighting the incident, they noted that a few days ago, Udhayanidhi Stalin, a serving Minister in the Tamil Nadu State Government, while addressing a press conference in Chennai stated, “Few things cannot be opposed, they should be abolished. We can’t oppose dengue, mosquitoes, malaria, or corona, we have to eradicate them. In the same way, we have to eradicate the Sanatana (Sanatan Dharma), rather than opposing it”.
The letter to the CJI added that the Tamil Nadu Minister further deliberately remarked that Sanatana Dharma enslaved women and did not allow them to step out of their homes.
The letter cites the Supreme Court’s order to register the Suo Moto case in matters of hate speech
It noted that the Supreme Court in a writ petition(s) observed – “There cannot be fraternity unless different religious communities are amenable to live in harmony. Supreme Court expressed concern over the growing incidents of hate speeches in the Country and directed the governments and police authorities to take suo motu action in such cases without waiting for the lodging of formal complaints.”
The letter pointed out that the Supreme Court stressed that such action is needed in order to preserve the secular character of the country. Further, any delay on the part of the administration in taking action on “very serious issues” will invite the court’s contempt.
Briefly touching on the importance of ‘Sanatan Dharma, the letter states, “It (Sanatan Dharma) is a set of duties incumbent upon all Hindus and has often been defined as an “eternal” that will always be relevant and gives the people of the Hindu faith, the freedom to choose the mode of worship of the Almighty of their choice.”
The letter added that rather than apologising for hate speech, Udhayanidhi Stalin justified his remark and the clarifications he gave did not assuage the affected people.
The letter added, “Not only did he make a hate speech but Udhayanidhi Stalin refused to apologise for his remarks. Rather he justified himself by stating: “I will say this continuously” with reference to his remark that Santana Dharma should be eradicated. He reiterated that he stands by his remarks and offered ambiguities and nuances that did little to address the concerns raised by people.”
Stating that they were deeply concerned by Stalin’s remarks, the eminent citizens asserted that these remarks undeniably amounted to hate speech against a large population of India. They also argued that these remarks strike at the very core of the Constitution of India which envisages Bharat as a secular nation.
The letter also pointed out that the rule of law was further undermined when the Tamil Nadu government refused to take any action against Udhayanidhi Stalin and rather chose to justify his remarks.
Citing the Supreme Court’s order regarding hate speech, the eminent citizens requested that the apex court should register suo moto cases and the offenders should be punished in accordance with the law. Any hesitation to act as per the directions would be viewed as contempt of court, the letter noted.
Requesting to take suo moto cognizance of the alleged hate speech, the letter added, “Since the State Government has refused to take action and acted in contempt of the Court’s orders and gravely undermined or rather made a mockery of the rule of law, we urge the Hon’ble Supreme Court to take the suo moto notice of contempt, ensuring accountability for the inaction of the State Government of Tamil Nadu, and take decisive steps to prevent the inducement of hate speech, preserving public order and peace and we request you to take immediate appropriate actions.”
Former Delhi High Court judge Justice SN Dhingra and IAS officer Gopal Krishna are the coordinators of the letter sent to CJI DY Chandrachud. It has also attached the list of 262 eminent citizens who have signed this letter to CJI.