Did Singapore Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon give a speech on the Constitution of India being Hijacked?

Did Singapore Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon give a speech on the Constitution of India being Hijacked?

 A video was shared on Twitter with over 140,000 views featuring a man identified as The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Singapore, Sundaresh Menon. The tweet claims that he is speaking on “how the Constitution of India could be hijacked by Chaddi Judges to turn India into a Hindu Rashtra.”

Hindu Rashtra”, which translates to “Hindu Polity” or “Hindu Nation” has been used to represent movements calling for India to declare itself a Hindu nation – under which major powers and systems such as the government and army would be shaped by Hindu beliefs and values. While the term is not new, it represents a controversial conflict in modern Indian politics.

The individual in the video speaks about the risk of Judges whose decisions are shaped by beliefs outside of the Indian Constitution forming the foundation of a shift towards “Hindu theocracy.” The post garnered many responses, with some expressing anger that a Singaporean Justice was commenting on Indian politics and others agreeing or disagreeing with the points made.

However, given the sensitive nature of the topic, we found it unlikely that Chief Justice Menon would speak in such strong terms. The lack of wider news coverage also raised some red flags for us. According to our research, Chief Justice Menon visited India in early February as a guest during the commemoration of the Indian Supreme Court’s 73rd anniversary. He sat in on proceedings in the Indian Supreme Court alongside his counterpart on 3rd February, and delivered a speech on 4th February which can be found on Youtube. None of his comments mentioned Hindu Rashtra or specific issues within India’s political landscape.

A quick comparison between video footage of the above events and the twitter video clearly shows two different individuals. As shown below, the image on the left is from the Twitter video, and the image on the right is from the video of Chief Justice Menon speaking on 4th February.

As a fact-check platform in India has already done, we performed a reverse image search on the clipped Twitter video, which led to the full version of the speech on Youtube, which was given on 18th February by Dr Mohan Gopal. Dr Gopal is a prominent academic and former Director of the National Judicial Academy of the Supreme Court of India, who was speaking  during a seminar held by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms in India.

Therefore, this tweet wrongly attributes the speech in the video to Chief Justice Menon, causing confusion and spreading misinformation. We give this claim a rating of false.

While the author of the original post has since added another tweet correcting their original claim, it has received only 8 thousand views compared to 140 thousand on the original tweet.

This is an example of how misinformation can quickly go viral despite being quickly and clearly debunked. Follow-up posts clearing the air or fact-checks by commenters can be drowned out and go unseen, which contributes to the further spread of misinformation.

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