CHENNAI: Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister PK Sekarbabu told the Madras High Court that the quo warranto writ petition filed against him over the Sanatana Dharma row was motivated by Hindutva forces over his department’s drive to retrieve temple properties, adding that the plea is against constitutional provisions as Sanatana Dharma promotes caste discrimination.
Making the submissions on behalf of the HR&CE minister before Justice Anita Sumanth on Tuesday, senior counsel N Jothi said the petition was motivated because he was instrumental in retrieving temple property worth Rs 162.4 crore from BJP and Hindu Munnani members.
“A very conservative estimation of Rs 162.4 crore worth properties was retrieved from illegal occupation by Hindutva persons,” he said, adding that Rs 5,334 crore worth of land measuring to 5,781 acres were retrieved. The counsel further stated that Sekarbabu attended the conference, which had a theme of eradication of Sanatana Dharma, in his capacity as DMK district secretary.
Explaining the ideologies of Smritis, Shrutis, Manusmriti, and Sanatana Dharma, Jothi held that Sanatana Dharma promotes caste discrimination which is against Articles 14, 15 and 17 of the Constitution which upholds equality, prohibits discrimination on the basis of caste and religion and untouchability. He said there is nothing wrong in attacking Sanatana Dharma which is based on the Manushmriti aiding caste discrimination.
The council enlisted the social reformers of the country and described Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin as a young social reformer who was striving to bring in equality among humans and wipe out discrimination
Meanwhile, MP A Raja, in his counter-affidavit, said that he had been expressing his views and opinions on Sanatana Dharma as the Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and speech. “Judicial notice can be taken on the persisting practice of untouchability, social inequality and unequal treatment of women in view of the ideas adumbrated by ancient Smritis and Shrutis,” he said in the counter-affidavit filed through senior counsel R Viduthalai. He further stated that his views on Sanatana Dharma are founded on the constituent assembly debates and have been echoed by none other than the framers of the Constitution.
Only governor, speaker can disqualify MLAs: AG
TN Advocate General (AG) R Shunmugasundaram told the court neither the secretary nor the special secretary of the Assembly can disqualify an MLA but only the Speaker or the Governor, who cannot be dragged into the court as they are holding constitutional posts. Senior Counsel P Wilson, representing Udhayanidhi Stalin, wanted the court to dismiss the writ petitions as they had made the Assembly special secretary a respondent. If the right person is not made a respondent, the petition is liable to be dismissed, he said, and he wanted the court to trash the applications filed by the petitioners for a change of respondent.