The Madras High Court while criticizing the Tamil Nadu police emphasized the responsibility of individuals in power to recognize the harmful consequences of divisive speech that fosters fragmentation among people based on ideology, caste, and religion. The Court urged them to act responsibly and refrain from propagating views that create divisions.

A Writ Petition was filed before the court referring to a previous case where the court had allowed a person to conduct a meeting within a closed auditorium, emphasizing the freedom of expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India on ‘Dravidian Ideology’. In the present petition permission to conduct a meeting critical of the Dravidian Ideology was requested as it was not been considered by the police. His representation had also referred about a meeting held on September 02, 2023 under the caption “Sanatana Ozhippu Maanaadu” (Sanatana Eradication Conclave).

A Bench of Justice G. Jayachandran said, “person in power should realise the danger of speech unflaring fissiparous tendency and behave responsibly and restrain themselves from propagating views which will divide people in the name of Ideology, Caste and Religion. Instead they may concentrate on eradicating intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injuries to health, corruption untouchability and other social evil.”

Advocate B.A. Sujay Prasanna appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate S. Udaya Kumar appeared for the Respondents.

The Court criticised the police for not taking action against members of the ruling party and ministers who participated in a meeting aiming to eradicate "Sanatana Dharma” however refused to support any attempt to spread hatred or ill-will among the public.

The Court added, “No one can expect Courts to aid them to propagate ideas to create ill-will among the public. Some Members of the Ruling Party and Ministers participated in the meeting held for eradicating “Sanatana Dharma” and no action has been taken by the Police against them which is dereliction of duty on the part of the Police. Since police failed to act against those who had uttered inflammatory speech to eradicate “Sanatana Dharma”. Now, permission to counter it by conducting meeting to eradicate “Dravidian Ideology”. If the request of the petitioner is acceded, it will cause further disturbance to the peace and tranquillity of the public, who are already fed up by the way some of the fringe groups in support of persons who have taken Oath of office to preserve the Spirit of Constitution, act in breach of their Oath. This Court cannot perpetrate by permitting the petitioner to hold conference to eradicate Dravidian Ideology.”

The Court examined the earlier order related seeking permission to express views about Dravidian Ideology. The Court found that petitioner in this case sought to counter a meeting held under the banner "Sanatana Ozhippu Maanaadu," claiming it was their fundamental right to conduct such a meeting.

The Court, however, noted that no one has the right to propagate divisive ideas or conduct meetings to abolish any ideology. The Court emphasized the coexistence of multiple ideologies as the identity of the country. The Court added, “This Court cannot subscribe to this view. No person in this Country can have a right to propagate divisive ideas and conduct meeting to abolish or eradicate any Ideology. Co-existence of multiple and different ideologies is the identity of this Country.”

Consequently, the Court dismissed the Writ Petition, stating that there shall be no order as to costs.

Cause Title: Magesh Karthikeyan v. The Commissioner Of Police & Anr.

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