New Delhi, Jan 3: On Monday, the Supreme Court delivered a historic judgment in which it said that seeking votes in the name of religion, race, caste, community of language, amounted to corrupt practice and the election of a candidate is liable to be set aside.
The verdict delivered by a 4:3 majority is indeed welcome, but there are certain grey areas.
The court said that in case a candidate was seeking votes in the name or caste, religion, etc, as mentioned above, then an appeal can be made and if upheld it could lead to disqualification of the candidate. The Supreme Court would, however, have to give more clarity on certain issues.
For instance, if a person is speaking about casteism and inequality, then does it qualify for an appeal against the candidate. Legal experts are of the view that a distinction must be made failing which it would put the party in a legal quagmire.
Grey areas remain:
The Bench held that religion has no role in electoral process and this is a secular activity. Mixing state with religion is not constitutionally permissible. The relationship between man and God is an individual choice and the state is forbidden to have allegiance to such an activity.
"An appeal in the name of religion, race, caste, community or language is impermissible under the Representation of Peoples' 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," the majority on the Bench held.
The ruling gave a broader meaning and sought include all forms of appeals in the name of religion whether it is by a candidate or an agent or leaders of the party.
The verdict is a crucial one especially in the wake of Uttar Pradesh going to polls. In UP, caste and religion tend to dominate the election process. However, it is yet to be seen how the verdict would be implemented.
As pointed out earlier there is a grey area in the verdict which does not define what happens if a candidate is speaking about inequality while quoting the caste system.