Election panel to set up guidelines to implement SC order on religion, caste | assembly-elections | Hindustan Times
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Election panel to set up guidelines to implement SC order on religion, caste

The legal department of the Election Commission of India is formulating rules to implement the Supreme Court’s order that declares using religion, caste and creed for seeking votes a corrupt electoral practice.

assembly elections Updated: Jan 04, 2017 15:27 IST
HT Correspondent
About 160 million people will be eligible to vote in the upcoming  five state elections.
About 160 million people will be eligible to vote in the upcoming five state elections. (Kalpak Pathak/HT File Photo)

The legal department of the Election Commission of India is formulating rules to implement the Supreme Court’s order that declares using religion, caste and creed for seeking votes a corrupt electoral practice.

Chief election commissioner Naseem Zaidi on Wednesday said the order will be implemented with immediate effect as the announcement of state polls brought into effect the election code of conduct.

Read | Assembly elections 2017: UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur vote count on March 11

State assembly elections for five states – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa – will begin on February 4 and go on till March 8, with results due on March 11.

“Section 123 of the Representation of People will be evoked. Our election machinery will come down on heavily under the law,” Zaidi said.

In a majority verdict, the Supreme Court on Monday held that any appeal for votes on the ground of “religion, race, caste, community or language” amounted to “corrupt practice” under the election law provision.

Read | Supreme Court verdict outlawing votes in the name of religion a setback for BJP

Referring to the term ‘his religion’ used in section 123(3) of the Representation of The Peoples (RP) Act, which deals with ‘corrupt practice’, Chief Justice TS Thakur and three others said the verdict applied to everyone, i.e., the religion and caste of all, including voters, candidates and their agents etc.

The SC order put the onus of implementation on the commission.

Given the high stakes of the state elections, parties and candidates have been freely wooing voters in the name of religion.

Replying to a question, Zaidi said the EC had already banned registration of political party names that were based on a particular caste or religion in 2005.