Left parties on Tuesday hailed Supreme Court’s verdict that outlawed seeking votes in the name of religion and also urged the Election Commission to suggest necessary amendments for implementing the “landmark” judgement.
“CPI(M) Politburo welcomes the majority verdict of the seven-member Constitution bench of the Supreme Court which held that the electoral process is a secular activity and religion can have no place in such an activity,” it said in a statement.
CPI(M) though underscored the need to clarify the difference between an appeal made based on these factors to ensure electoral gains and raising issues of social injustice and discrimination, contending the latter as essential elements of any electoral discourse for attaining justice.
Quoting both the majority and dissenting views expressed by the seven-member Constitution bench of the apex court while hearing the case on Monday, the Politburo said there is a “thin line” that differentiates an appeal made to electorate on these considerations and raising issues of injustices.
“The clarity on this is essential for strengthening the secular democratic foundations of the Constitution and the electoral process,” it said.
Terming the judgement as “landmark”, CPM general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy said that the verdict should put to an end “the long litigation” used by some vested interests on the issue.
Reddy said the judgement clearly stated that misuse of religion, caste or language comes under the clause of corruption.
It has “rightly” described the religious belief as a personal issue between the persona and his/her God, the former Parliamentarian said.
“The judgement will strengthen the core values of the Indian Constitution, secularism and democracy. CPI welcomes the judgement and urges upon the EC to suggest necessary amendments for proper implementation of it and disqualification of candidates and parties misusing the religion/caste/language,” he urged.
Without naming any party, Reddy alleged that parties which do not have socio, economic and political policies allegedly try to misuse the religion and caste for electoral benefits.
“...after coming to power, carry on pro-corporate, anti-people policies. People should be vigilant and utilise the Supreme Court judgement as a weapon to fight against such elements,” he suggested.
In a majority verdict, the Supreme Court had yesterday 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.
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 T S Thakur and three others in the 4:3 verdict said it meant the religion and caste of all including voters, candidates and their agents etc.
In its verdict passed in a case involving election of a Shiv Sena leader in mid-90s, the Supreme Court had in 1995 stated that Hindutva is a “way of life and not religion”.