Election a secular exercise; can’t seek votes on caste, religious lines: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court bars political parties from seeking vote in the name of religion including Hindutva.

Supreme Court

In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court today said that seeking votes on the basis of caste, community, religion or language is illegal.

A Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Justice TS Thakur by a 4:3 majority passed the order on the basis of Section 123(3) of the Representation of People’s Act.

The apex court said, “No politician can seek vote in the name of caste, creed, or religion.”

The court was hearing several petitions in Hindutva case. The Supreme Court made it clear that politicians cannot appeal to religion during electoral process.

The dissenting judgment was delivered by Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit.

  1. The Supreme Court said that election is a secular exercise and thereby its way and process should be followed.
  2. The Supreme Court’s ruling pertains to the electoral malpractices in the name of religion.
  3. The Supreme Court clearly ruled that if a candidate was found to be seeking vote in the name of religion, it would be considered a corrupt practice under the Representation of People’s Act.
  4. Seeking vote in the name of religion by the candidate will be dealt under Section 123(3) of the Representation of People’s Act, the Supreme Court ruled.
  5. The Supreme Court also prohibited the use of the case, creed, language or community as a tool for seeking vote in election.
  6. The seven-judge Constitution bench passed the judgement in the Hindutva case with a majority of 4-3 after hearing in detail arguments from various petitioners and respondents.
  7. The Supreme Court further added that relationship between man and God is individual choice. The state is forbidden to interfere in such an activity.
  8. In the last hearing, the seven-judge Constitutional bench of the court had, however, said that it would not revisit the 1995 judgment, which defined Hindutva as ‘a way of life’.
  9. A bunch of PILs were filed before the Supreme Court in the wake of 1995 judgment of the apex court in the Hindutva case, which dealt with electoral malpractices.
  10. Delivering the judgment in the Manohar Joshi case in 1995, Justice JS Verma had written in conclusion, “It is a fallacy and an error of law to proceed on the assumption that any reference to Hindutva or Hinduism in a speech makes it automatically a speech based on Hindu religion as opposed to other religions.”
  11. “(Hindutva and Hinduism) are used in a speech to emphasise the way of life of the Indian people and the Indian cultural ethos,” the Supreme Court had said in 1995.