New Delhi: Politicians are barred from seeking votes in the name of religion, caste or creed the Supreme Court ruled today 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.
The court’s bench said today 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. The top court was examining a politically explosive question arising out of a plea filed in 1990. That question – 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.
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.