Allow Election Commission to consider cases of misuse of religion by candidates, PIL by Delhi BJP leader urges

A BJP leader has moved the Supreme Court seeking to empower the Election Commission (EC) to look into the complaints of misuse of religion by candidates.

IANS May 28, 2018 21:51:24 IST
Allow Election Commission to consider cases of misuse of religion by candidates, PIL by Delhi BJP leader urges

New Delhi: A BJP leader has moved the Supreme Court seeking to empower the Election Commission (EC) to take cognisance of complaints relating to corrupt practices and misuse of religion by contesting candidates and political parties to investigating agencies.

Besides seeking to empower the Commission, PIL petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay — a Supreme Court advocate and a leader of the Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — has also sought directions to the central government to take appropriate steps to restrict misuse of religion by candidates and political parties for electoral gains.

The petition has cited the Goswami Committee report and the suggestions made by the EC in its proposed electoral reforms in support of its plea for empowering the Commission to take cognizance and refer to investigating agencies the cases of misuse of religion for electoral gains by individual candidates and political parties.

Allow Election Commission to consider cases of misuse of religion by candidates PIL by Delhi BJP leader urges

File image of Supreme Court. Reuters

Seeking directions from the top court, petitioner advocate Upadhyay has pointed to the "growing instances of misuse of religion by political parties and contesting candidates for electoral gains, and its appalling effect on secularism, unity and integrity of the Country".

The PIL petitioner has, in support of his contention, referred to the 1990 report of the Goswami Committee on Electoral Reforms, the 1993 Vohra Committee report on the criminal-politician nexus, the 1998 Indrajit Gupta Committee report on State Funding of Elections, the report of the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution and other reports including that of the Law Commission and the 2008 Second Administrative Reforms Commission.

"The democratic institutions provided in the Constitution," the PIL says, "are sound and the path for progress does not lie in denigrating any of these institutions."

However, the PIL has contended that "there could be no denial that these institutions have been subjected to considerable stresses and strains and that vested interests have been trying to promote their selfish ends to the great detriment of public good."

The PIL says it was in this backdrop that the Constitution was amended to expressly spell out "the high ideals of socialism, secularism, unity and integrity of the nation" and to make the directive principles more comprehensive and giving them "precedence over those fundamental rights, which have been allowed to be relied upon to frustrate socio-economic reforms for implementing the directive principles."

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