Opinion

Massive blow to secular parties, Supreme Court passes landmark verdict on polls without religion!

Supreme Court gives Landmark verdict stating clearly that Politicians can’t seek Votes on the basis of religion, So Polls without the Religion card by any political party. A seven-Judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur—who retires on Tuesday, said the secular ethos of the Constitution had to be maintained by keeping election a secular exercise. The SC clearly stated through its verdict seeking votes in the name of religion, caste, race, community or language, a Landmark elections states where faith and caste are top poll issues.

“The relationship between man and god is an individual choice. The State is forbidden to have allegiance to such an activity”, the bench said.

The court said that the function of an elected representative should be secular. “Religion has no role in electoral process, which is a secular activity”, the judges added. “Mixing state with religion is not constitutionally permissible”.

According to me Hindutva means inter personal relationships, a relationship between man & God. There are many parties to name them few is BSP which plays Dalit card -21%, whereas SP follows the same caste card –Muslim Votes, Congress is known for their attitude towards Minority cards, due to Political Expediencies. Whereas BJP never played any communal card, rather gave due emphasis to Vikas (Development), Parivartan of UP & Punjab which is their motto, which is clearly visible for Last two years of BJP led by PM Modi. Therefore, I feel that Election represents people’s moods, wants& the desire elect a party which will bring a clear change in their Lives for betterment, rather a progressive, working towards Development oriented projects for the State. The Election Campaign should be based on development & welfare for all & most importantly Empowering every village in Rural India to benefit from its welfare oriented schemes. So, according to me I feel this judgement given by SC is a good and Land mark decision for those parties which play their regional card during Elections time.

The Verdict also clearly Pronounced that elections can’t be fought by making a pitch to the candidate’s opponents or voters religion, caste, race, community, or Language. But three Judges who dissented such a decision amounted to “Judicial redrafting of the Law” and said to prohibit people from articulating legitimate concerns reduced “democracy to an abstraction”. It has been interpreted in an earlier verdict that the term’ his religion’ used in section 123(3) of the Representation of the People (RP) Act which deals with corrupt practice, meant the faith of the candidates only. The bench also comprising Justices M.B. Lokur, S.A. Bobde, AK Goel, U.U. Lalit, D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao, yet again reiterated that it would not revisit famous Verdict ‘Hindutva’ holding Hinduism as’ way of life’ as the issue did not find any mention in the reference made to it by a five -year Judge bench.

“Why are you referring to that (Hindutva Judgement)? We are not examining that judgement. Let me make it clear that this has not been referred to us”, the CJI clarified when senior advocate KK Venugopal said he would argue if the court is dealing with the ‘Hindutva’ verdict. The observation also assumed significance as social activists Teesta setalvad, Shamsul Islam and Dilip Mandal have recently filed an application to intervene in the ongoing hearing to seek de-linking of religion from Politics. The bench, which heard various parties represented by top lawyers including Arvind Datar, shyam Divan, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, and Indira Jaisingh for six days, however said the Hindutva verdict, if needed may be “debated upon “by a five-judge bench.

“This case is all about the political speech on the ground of religion. We vote as citizens and not as Hindus or Muslims”. jaising said adding that the interpretation that ‘his religion’ meant faith of candidates only is flawed….

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan, referred to various provisions of RP Act dealing with filing of election petitions and powers of the court to pass an order if there are allegations of corrupt practices in the poll.” It is clear that for the purpose of declaring an election of returned candidate to be void due to any corrupt practice committed in the interest of returned candidates by an agent other than his election agent, it is necessary to establish that results of election have been materially affected due to the corrupt practice” he said. He also expressed apprehension on possible judicial scrutiny of promises made by political parties in their election manifestos.

There are bodies like Election Commission for dealing with the wrongs committed in the manifestos, he said. Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for the party, also sought re-visiting of the Hindutva judgement.

To me while I pen down my views on the SC verdict on Polls without religion card, I am taken by surprises by few parties like CPI(M) in its plea submitted that it believed in secularism and quoted its programme saying it was committed to wage an “uncompromising struggle” for the consistent implementation of the principles of secularism.  As far as my knowledge of Indian Politics goes, I Know that CPI(M) always plays the Dalit card and taking up the issue of down trodden, but in turn doing nothing for the welfare of the people, which is very visible in Kerala led by CPI government. We find there are parties like Indian Union of Muslim league, DMK shows they clearly work for the cause of a particular religion or language and hence, there cannot be a straight-jacket formula to deal with the issue at hand. These things show the parties are bound by its objectives, accepted by poll panel, and hence can appeal to electors on the name of religion,language etc., he said.

The Apex court asked whether a candidate or a party, seeking votes in the name of religion, caste or tribe by promising that this would help protect and improve the voters ‘lot as a community, would be a “Corrupt Practice”.

The Supreme Court further said that Election is a Secular exercise and that the function of an elected representative should be to uphold the secular values. The SC said that relationship between man and god is an individual choice and the state should never interfere in it at all. Four of the Seven Judges bench ruled in favour of the verdict, while three ruled against it.

I would like to stress the fact the SC is the supreme body, all parties must adhere to it and the other issue is that many party’s issues Tickets during elections time on the basis of caste, which is regarded as most Corrupt practice or Act to perform. Parties should honestly work for the development instead of fulfilling Minority or based on caste, color, creed. After all they are representatives of its citizens duly elected by them. For All those states who are going for polls will definitely get a clear message nailed to their manifestos highlighting/streamling only&only for VIKAS/PARIVARTAN of all, not based on Political Expediencies. I hope after reading my brief analysis with my Limited Knoweldge will accept my views. Requesting you all to go through my Analysis, to give your views too making India a vibrant, progressive & above all a SECULAR Nation.

Jai Hind


Dr.S. Sukanya Iyer

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