The Supreme Court of India on 2 January 2017 ruled that no politician can seek the vote in the name of caste, creed, religion community or language.
By a 4-3 majority ruling, a seven-judge Constitution bench of the court held that the candidate will be disqualified if he/she was found violating the order. The bench was headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur. The court's verdict came while it was hearing several petitions in the Hindutva case.
The bench comprised of Chief Justice Thakur, Justice SA Bobde, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice L Nageswara Rao, Justice Madan B Lokur, Adarsh Kumar Goel, Justice UU Lalit and Justice DY Chandrachud.
The court further said election is a secular exercise and its way and process should be followed. It said, secular ethos of the Constitution must be upheld.
Highlights of the verdict
• It held that the Constitution forbids the country from mixing religion with politics.
• It said that being a secular in character, the country can identify itself with any one of the religions or religious denominations.
• Being a secular exercise similar as the functions of elected representatives, elections should be secular in practice as well as outlook.
• Justice Thakur wrote in his opinion, “This necessarily implies that religion will not play any role in the governance of the country which must at all times be secular in nature”.
• The bench said any appeal for votes on the ground of religion amounts to corrupt practices under electoral laws.
• It said, the relationship between man and God is an individual choice and interference in such an activity by the State is forbidden.
Comment & Opinion
The verdict by the Constitutional bench of the court may change the rules of the game for electoral politics in India, as several parties never hesitate in employing caste, religion and ethnicity to flatter/persuade voters. Apart from this, major clarity will be seen after the election commission spells out the ground rules for the same while implementing the decision of the apex court.