Chennai: The Madras High Court has issued significant remarks amid the ongoing debate over Sanatana Dharma by observing that while free speech is a fundamental right, it should not devolve into hate speech, particularly when it pertains to matters of religion.
The court stated that Sanatana Dharma is a set of eternal duties, including duty to the nation, to the King, to one’s parents and gurus, and care for the poor, among others.
Justice N Seshasayee of the Madras High Court gave these remarks while hearing a petition filed by one Elangovan. This petition challenged a circular issued by a local government Arts College asking students to share their thoughts on the topic ‘Opposition to Sanathana’.
The judge pointed out that an idea seems to have gained ground that Sanatana Dharma is solely about promoting casteism and untouchability, a notion he firmly rejected.
The judge further stressed that while free speech is a fundamental right, it should not devolve into hate speech, particularly when it pertains to matters of religion. He underscored the need for ensuring that no one is injured by such a speech.
“Every religion is founded on faith, and faith by nature accommodates irrationality,” he said. “Therefore, when free speech is exercised in matters pertaining to religion, it is necessary for one to ensure that no one is injured. In other words, free speech cannot be hate speech,” he said
Recently Tamil Nadu Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin faced massive backlash by likening Sanatana Dharma to diseases like “dengue and malaria”.