CHENNAI: Youth Welfare and Sports Development Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin told the Madras High Court that the Constitution provides for the right to practice and propagate atheism and his comments on Sanatana Dharma cannot be construed as a breach of oath of office.
Advancing arguments on his behalf on Wednesday, senior counsel P Wilson said, “Article 25 of the Constitution provides protected right to practice atheism and also for propagating it.” He added that Udhayanidhi’s comments, in his capacity as a minister, on Sanatana Dharma at a closed-door event cannot be challenged in court by an individual and it does not amount to a breach of oath of office. Moreover, the breach of oath cannot be decided by a court of law as it does fall within its periphery, and only the chief minister can take a call on the matter.
Explaining that Article 51(A)(h) of the Constitution provides for propagating scientific temper and reforms, Wilson said, “This what Udhayanidhi had done at the closed-door meeting.” Referring to the remarks of Justice N Seshasayee on Sanatana Dharma in a recent order, Wilson pointed out that the judge himself had acknowledged the existence of inequalities in Sanatana Dharma and the need for them to be eradicated.
Saying that society is plagued by inequalities, he said such inequalities must be wiped out; that is what Udhayanidhi spoke of. The senior counsel, making the submissions before Justice Anita Sumanth on the petitions filed by people belonging to Hindu Munnani seeking a quo warranto writ against Udhayanidhi, HR&CE minister PK Sekar Babu and DMK MP A Raja, said constitutional morality overrides social morality and the courts must be guided by constitutional morality.
He also said social morality is not tenable and the court shall test current petitions through the prism of constitutional morality which bats for eradicating all types of discrimination. The court adjourned the hearing to Friday.