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Supreme Court terming seeking votes based on religion illegal, a positive development: CPI

New Delhi: The CPI on Monday welcomed Supreme Court holding that appeal for vote on ground of religion amounts to "corrupt practice", but said the issue of caste and language needs to be addressed "carefully".

The party also wondered if the order can be taken as negation of the apex court's earlier verdict that Hinduism is a "way of life".

Monday's verdict also held that appeal for voting on the grounds of 'race, caste, community or language' too amounts to "corrupt practice".

"As far as religion is concerned, it (the fresh verdict) is positive. Religion and politics should remain separate. But the question is whether the judgment can be taken as negation of the earlier judgment on Hindutva being way of life.

"It should be taken as negation of the earlier judgment and nobody should use religion to polarise people for electoral gains," CPI national secretary D Raja said.

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

He said the issue of language and caste though needs to be addressed "carefully" because there are tribals, the Dalits and certain sections of society which are "socially discriminated, subjected to atrocities".

"In some cases, we raise the question of inclusion of languages in eighth schedule. So, Supreme Court (should) be clear when they refer to caste and language. That's why it should be demarcated," he observed.

To drive his point, the parliamentarian argued that somebody raising the question of reservation to SCs/STs in private sector, can't be taken as using caste for demanding votes.

"It is a general demand within the framework of Constitution. If somebody raises the protection of languages, all languages must be treated equally. It cannot be treated as some kind of practice which is against the model code of conduct. So, there should be some clarity (in the verdict)," he said.

In a majority verdict, the Supreme Court today held that appeal for votes on the ground of "religion, race, caste, community or language" amounts to "corrupt practice" under the election law provisions.

Referring to the term 'his religion' used in section 123(3) of the Representation of The Peoples (RP) Act, which deals with 'corrupt practice', Chief Justice TS Thakur and three others in a 4:3 verdict said it meant the religion and caste of all including voters, candidates and their agents etc.

In its verdict passed in a case involving election of a Shiv Sena leader in mid-90s, the Supreme Court had in 1995 stated that Hindutva is a "way of life and not religion".

Updated Date: Jan 02, 2017 18:58 PM

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