Politicians cannot seek votes in name of religion: Indian SC

Politicians cannot seek votes in name of religion: Indian SC

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File photo: Baishali Dalmiya, TMC candidate for Bally Assembly constituency, 2016, starts her election campaign at Bally.

Indian politicians have been barred from seeking votes in the name of religion, caste or creed the Indian Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a landmark judgment, ahead of crucial assembly polls in five states.
The court also ruled that seeking votes in this manner will be deemed a corrupt practice and not permissible, reports Times of India.

The court’s bench said on Monday by a 4:3 majority that elections are a secular exercise and that the relationship between people and whom they worship is an individual choice. Therefore, the state is forbidden to interfere in such an activity, the court said.

A 7-judge constitution bench passed the judgement in the Hindutva case after hearing arguments from various petitioners/respondents, Times of India said.

The top court was examining a politically explosive question arising out of a plea filed in 1990. That questioned – Will a religious leader’s appeal to his followers to vote for a particular political party amount to electoral malpractice under Section 123 of the Representation of People Act.

The court gave a wider meaning to Section 123 of the Representation of People Act to stamp out the use of religion and community affiliation from elections, the ToI report observed.

Chief Justice T S Thakur, justices M B Lokur, S A Bobde and L N Rao favoured rooting out religion from election, while Justices A K Goel, U U Lalit and D Y Chandrachud were in a minority on the issue.

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