The Supreme Court yesterday (20 October) said Parliament has done nothing in the last two decades to stop misuse of religion for electoral gains.
The apex court's seven-judge Constitution Bench asked why it (court) should not step in to make, seeking of votes by raking up religion, a corrupt electoral practise under the Representation of People Act.
Observing that Parliament did nothing since 1996 when a five-judge bench made a reference to a seven-judge bench on the impact of using Hindutva in elections vis-a-vis Section 132 (3) of the Act, Chief Justice T S Thakur asked if it (Parliament) was waiting for the apex court to pronounce a verdict as in the case of curbing sexual harassment at work places through what are known as Vishaka guidelines.
"The essence, the ethos of our constitutional system is secularism. Religion and politics don't mix. (Are) Elections a secular activity or not? In a secular state, can religion be brought into secular activities?" Chief Justice Thakur observed.
The question before the seven-judge bench is whether seeking votes in the name of religion amounts to corrupt practice under the Representation of People Act, leading to unseating of a lawmaker.
Meanwhile, social activist Teesta Setalvad, academic Shamshul Islam and journalist Dilip Mandal have moved an impleadment application to seek authoritative pronouncement on Hindutva so that it could not be used during elections for influencing voters.
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