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Published On: Tue, Jan 24th, 2017

Desist from seeking votes in name of religion, caste, EC tells political parties

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Election Commission-063006-YN-18NEW DELHI : The Election Commission on Tuesday directed political parties to desist from seeking votes in the name of religion and caste. Reminding them of a recent Supreme Court order which said such appeals amount to corrupt practice, the poll panel said that it amounts to violation of the model code.

In a separate letter to chief electoral officers of all states, the commission said any activity of seeking votes in the name of religion and caste by or on behalf of any candidate or political party would now amount to violation of the provisions of the Mode Code of Conduct.
The CEOs have been asked to inform the grassroots level election officials and ensure the compliance of the SC orders during elections.Seeking votes in name of religion is ‘corrupt practice’: SC

In a landmark verdict seeking to separate religion, caste and other issues from politics, the Supreme Court, by a majority verdict, had held on January 02 as “corrupt” the practice of candidates appealing for votes on the basis of these identities included not only him but his agents and voters.
In a marked departure from the view held in the 1995 “Hindutva” judgement that the term ‘his’ used in section 123 (3)of the Representation of the People Act meant the religion, caste, etc of candidates only, a seven-judge bench headed by former chief justice TS Thakur, by a majority of 4:3, had held that any appeal for votes on these grounds would amount to “corrupt practice”.

The court had held that the provisions of the RP Act, which say that seeking vote by a candidate in the name of “his” religion, caste, race, religion and language in the election law, included candidates, his agents and voters also.
“An appeal in the name of religion, race, caste, community or language is impermissible under the RP Act, 1951 and would constitute a corrupt practice sufficient to annul the election in which such an appeal was made regardless whether the appeal was in the name of the candidate’s religion or the religion of the election agent or that of the opponent or that of the voter’s,” According to a News Agency pti -Thakur, who concurred with majority verdict written by Justice MB Lokur, had said.
The verdict came on a batch of petitions including the one filed by Abhiram Singh whose election as an MLA in 1990 on BJP ticket from Santacruz Assembly seat in Mumbai was set aside by the Bombay High Court.
(With PTI inputs)

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