Advocacy against political parties using religion in their symbols: SC advice to ECI


New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued a plea opinion requesting the Election Commission of India (ECI) to annul the symbol and name given to political parties that use religion or carry religious connotations in their symbols.

The plea filed by Syed Waseem Rizwi through Advocate Abhikalp Pratap Singh said the petition deals with the mandate of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) 1951 and the Constitution and how the constitutional values ​​form an integral part of the RPA and can be attested under sections 29A, 123(3) and 123(3A) of the Act.

The plea argued that the use of religion to attract voters is strictly prohibited under Section 123 of the RPA citing the secular values ​​of the Constitution.

Lead Counsel Gaurav Bhatia, representing the petitioner, submitted before a bench consisting of Judges MR Shah and Judge Krishna Murari that two parties which are recognized state parties have the word “Muslim” in their name, and that some parties have a crescent moon and stars in their official statement. flags and questioned, can political parties have a religious connotation in their name?

Bhatia said for example Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the party has MPs in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and MPs in Kerala. He added: “This violates the Model Code of Conduct. We have to see, can we pollute politics?

Relying on the judgment of the supreme court in the case of SR Bommai v Union of India, Bhatia argued that it was held by this court that secularism was part of the fundamental characteristic.

The bench, citing section 123 of the RPA, questioned whether the ban would apply to political parties, as the section refers to a candidate. Bhatia argued that if a candidate from a party with a religious name seeks to vote, that candidate will violate RPA and secularism.

After hearing arguments on the matter, the bench issued an opinion to the ECI and the Secretary of the Ministry of Law and Justice, returnable on October 18, and asked the plaintiff’s lawyer to involve the parties politicians involved in the case.

“The people must vote on the basis of everything except religion. If a candidate is elected on the basis of a religious symbol/name, then the whole purpose of enacting RPA Section 123 Sub-Clause (3) would cease to exist,” the plea said. .

Citing Supreme Court judgments, the plea said the Supreme Court has placed the utmost importance on secularism and its impact on the social fabric of the nation. “Therefore, by allowing the use of religious symbols/names by political parties, the Election Commission of India is challenging the mandate of the Constitution,” the plea added.

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