The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a petition seeking direction to the Election Commission to de-register Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) for taking part in religious activities, saying courts can’t pass such orders.
"We are aware of our powers and limitations. We cannot give direction to the Election Commission to de-recognise or de-register a political party and we will not allow such prayer," a three-Judge Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan said declining to entertain the PIL filed by one Balwant Singh Khera.
Petitioner’s counsel Prashant Bhushan contended that SAD’s participation in the elections of religious bodies like the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee and the Delhi Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee was against secularism, one of the basic tenets of the Constitution.
In his petition, Khera alleged that the Representation of the People Act, 1951 did not permit a political party to be non-secular and its registration was possible only when it gave an undertaking of allegiance to the principles of socialism, democracy and secularism -enshrined in the Constitution.
The petitioner submitted that a political party could not use the word "Akali" as "it has strong religious connotations".
Advising the petitioner to approach the Commission, the Bench said if the EC declined his prayer, he could challenge that particular order before it.
However, Bhushan pointed out that in the year 2002 the apex court had held that the EC did not have power to de-register a political party and, therefore, there was no point in going to the Commission.
He also drew the court’s attention to the fact that a similar petition with a general prayer about all the political parties was already pending before it and that his petition could be simply tagged along with that.
But the court did not agree. "If you are aggrieved by the Election Commission order, you can challenge that order. We can then entertain your petition but in the present petition, we cannot entertain your prayer," it said.
As the court was not inclined to entertain the petition, Bhushan chose to withdraw it.