The Supreme Court on Thursday called for the separation of politics and religion and said that candidates cannot ask for votes in the name of religion, NDTV reported. The apex court is revisiting its 1995 stand on the use of words such as "Hindutva" during elections to draw mileage from particular groups of voters.
The bench is hearing three cases that challenge the practice of using religion to seek votes. Social activist Teesta Setalvad and others have also asked the apex court to reconsider its ruling on the word "Hindutva" to restrict political outfits from "exploiting religious sentiments" The hearing will resume on October 25.
Chief Justice TS Thakur, heading the seven-judge bench examining the case, said, "The essence, the ethos of our constitutional system is secularism. Religion and politics don't mix. Religion should be separated from the political process."
The previous ruling by former Chief Justice JS Verma had ruled out any restriction on using words such as "Hindutva, Hinduism or promoting a Hindu state" during elections, as it was a “way of life”. The verdict said that using such words could not be construed as asking for votes in the name of religion, which is a violation of Indian law.
Thakur said the Parliament had done “nothing” to revisit the verdict in the last 20 years, after one of the respondents counsel suggested that the 1995 verdict be accepted by the Supreme Court, as it was the Parliament's duty to "change the law".