Supreme Court rules that political parties, leaders cannot ask for votes in name of religion

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that seeking votes in the name of religion during polls is illegal. PTI reported that the Supreme Court in a majority verdict, held that any appeal for votes on the ground of religion amounts to corrupt practices under electoral laws.

The seven-judge Constitution bench comprising chief justice T.S. Thakur, justices Madan B. Lokur, S.A. Bobde, Adarsh Kumar Goel, U.U. Lalit, D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao has delivered this historic verdict. The hearing of the case had been going for over six days and the bench had reserved the verdict for 27 October reports  live mint.

During the hearing by a seven judge Constitutional bench, the apex court had said that it would not reconsider its 1995 judgment that defined Hindutva as 'a way of life and not a religion' said a report in The Indian Express. Those observations came after an interlocutory application filed by Teesta Setalvad, requesting the bench to reconsider the 1995 judgment.

According to The Asian Age, the court had earlier observed that the essence and ethos of our (India's) constitutional system is secularism and said that religion and politics should not mix. The court further remarked that elections are a secular activity and asked whether in a secular state, religion can be brought into secular activities.

According to section 123 (3) of the People’s Representation Act of 1951, no candidate or his agent can appeal for votes on the grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language. The Bombay High Court had in the mid-1990s set aside the election of Shiv Sena leader and former Maharashtra chief minister Manohar Joshi and the matter was then moved to Supreme Court. The Supreme Court in 1995 had overturned the Bombay High Court order and remarked that Hindutva is a way of life and not a way of religion, reported The Indian Express.

The Financial Express reported that the Supreme Court also said that the relation between man and God is an individual choice and that the state should refrain from interfering from such activities. The majority view of the Supreme Court upheld that if a politician makes an appeal for vote on the basis of his religion or requests his voters and agents to vote on the basis of caste, creed and religion, the elections will be void.

Updated Date: Jan 02, 2017 11:55 AM

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