Freedom of speech is a cherished right in democratic societies, allowing individuals to express their opinions and engage in meaningful discourse. However, this fundamental right is not absolute, as it comes with the responsibility to use it wisely and ethically. In recent times, there have been instances where free speech has been misused to insult and demean Sanatana Dharma.
The Bench and the Plea
Two judges, Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi, presided over the matter. Delhi-based lawyer Vineet Jindal filed the plea as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL). Jindal urged the Supreme Court to treat this hate speech case against Sanatan Dharma similarly to cases involving hate speech against Muslims.
Tamil Nadu’s Additional Advocate General (AAG), Amit Anand Tiwari, represented the DMK-led state government and opposed the filing of another PIL in this case.
Tiwari argued that these litigations were of the “publicity interest” nature. He questioned the necessity for another petition. He expressed concern over the increasing number of writ petitions filed across the country, asserting that they placed a significant burden on state governments.
Justice Bose’s Response
Justice Bose, acknowledging the petitioner’s constitutional right to seek redress, emphasized that the Constitution provided an appropriate remedy for such cases. However, the AAG continued to lament that individuals were primarily filing writ petitions for publicity. They were taking their grievances to the media and circulating them widely.
Advocate Raj Kishor Choudhary, representing the petitioner, objected. He reiterated that leaders of the Tamil Nadu government had made statements amounting to a genocidal call against Sanatan Dharma.
Justice Bose’s Ruling
After considering arguments from both sides, Justice Bose ruled to associate the current plea with another similar plea already underway in this case. Notably, the Supreme Court did not issue notice in the petition but decided to merge it with the existing plea. It indicated that it would further address it in due course.
Background of the Case
The controversy surrounding hate speech against Sanatan Dharma began when Udhayanidhi Stalin, the son of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, made inflammatory remarks during a meeting titled the “Eradicate Sanatan Conference” on September 2, 2023. Stalin equated Sanatan Dharma with diseases like malaria and corona, asserting that one should not oppose it but instead eradicate it.
The controversy intensified as other leaders of the DMK, the ruling party in Tamil Nadu, also made anti-Sanatan remarks. A Raja, another DMK leader, controversially compared Sanatan Dharma to diseases like HIV and leprosy. It raised concerns about the provocative nature of these statements.
The Misuse Of Free Speech
The irony here is that Nupur Sharma was thrown jabs by the same Supreme Court. She was accused of inciting violence with her “loose tongue”! Irony died a thousand deaths here but misuse of free speech can only be alleged if the target are Hindus. The very same Hindus who are reduced to Eighth class citizens in their own country as Dr. Anand Ranganathan once wrote!