Seeking votes in the name of religion, caste illegal: Supreme Court

This comes when the court was revisiting a 20-year-old judgment that called Hinduism a �way of life� and said a candidate was not affected prejudicially if votes were sought on this plank. But several petitions filed over the years have challenged the verdict.

Seeking votes in the name of religion, caste illegal: Supreme Court

Reviving scenario of Indian politics on first Monday of 2017, Supreme Court outlawed seeking votes in the name of religion, caste, race, community or language., a landmark judgment ahead of crucial assembly elections in five states where faith and caste are top poll issues.

This comes as a landmark judgment ahead of crucial assembly elections in five states where faith and caste are top poll issues.




A seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur said the secular ethos of the Constitution had to be maintained by keeping elections a secular exercise.

“The relationship between man and god is an individual choice. The state is forbidden to have allegiance to such an activity,” the bench said.

However, three of the seven judges dissented and said that such decision amounted to “judicial redrafting of the law” and said to prohibit people from articulating legitimate concerns reduced “democracy to an abstraction”.

“No government is perfect. The law doesn’t prohibit dialogue or discussion of a matter which is concern to the voters,” the dissenters said.

The court said the function of an elected representative should be secular. “Religion has no role in electoral process, which is a secular activity,” the judges added. “Mixing state with religion is not constitutionally permissible.”

Interestingly, this judgment might have significant implications in states that go to the polls just months from now, especially in Uttar Pradesh, where the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya and caste-based mobilization are top poll planks.

It is to be further noted that in Punjab too, religion and sacrilege are top campaign issues.

This comes when the court was revisiting a 20-year-old judgment that called Hinduism a “way of life” and said a candidate was not affected prejudicially if votes were sought on this plank. But several petitions filed over the years have challenged the verdict.

The question before the top court is whether seeking votes in the name of religion was a corrupt practice under the Representation of the People Act, and if candidates who indulge in this practice should be disqualified.