SC to hear plea against political parties misusing religion for electoral gains

New Delhi: A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court on Saturday seeking direction for taking action against political parties and contesting candidates for allegedly misusing religion for electoral gains.

The apex court is likely to take up the matter for hearing on July 4.

The PIL, filed by apex court lawyer and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Ashwini Upadhyay, sought a direction to the Central Government and Election Commission of India (ECI) to take appropriate steps to restrict the misuse of religion by the contesting candidates and political parties for electoral gain, as suggested by the ECI in its Proposed Electoral Reform.

A copy of the petition accessed by ANI stated that, “keeping in view of the growing instances of the alleged misuse of religion by political parties and contesting candidates for electoral gain and its appalling effect on secularism, unity and integrity of the country, it is prayed that the apex court may issue appropriate order to it.”

Upadhyay’s 127-page petition also sought to direct and declare that the ECI shall have the power to refer the complaints related to corrupt practices and misuse of religion for electoral gains to the investigation agencies in line with the recommendation of the Goswami Committee on electoral reforms.

The petition further stated that to ensure free and fair election, a bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 1994 and an amendment was proposed providing for provision to question before a High Court, acts of misuse of religion by political parties.

The Bill lapsed on the dissolution of the Lok Sabha in 1996 and again in 2010, the ECI proposed that the provision in that Bill should be considered again, but the executive did nothing in this regard till date.

The petition also stated that it has been observed, particularly, since 2000 onwards, not only the Lok Sabha and state assembly election, even in the by-elections, religious statements were made to support particular political parties and candidates, which is against the basic dictum of democracy and free and fair election in spirit of Article 324 of the Constitution. (ANI)