New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday orally observed that the Congress party promising in its election manifesto in Karnataka Assembly polls to eradicate social and educational backwardness to a community (Muslims and other minorities) would not amount to an appeal in the name of religion.
Making this observation a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud dismissed a PIL filed by Pramod Muthalik, Rashtriya Hindu Sena chief to disqualify Congress candidates who are seeking votes in the name of religion.
In a brief order the bench said, “We are not inclined to interfere. Needless to say, after the election is complete from all angles, if the petitioners feel aggrieved, they can take recourse to statutory remedy as provided under the Representation of the People Act, 1951.”
Counsel Vishnu Shankar Jain appearing for the petitioner submitted that the Congress in its election manifesto had promised many things for minorities and it would amount to seeking votes in the name of election. Rejecting this submission, Justice Chandrachud observed “referring to a community suffering from social or educational backwardness and assuring or promising steps to alleviate them is not an appeal on the ground of religion.”
At the outset CJI told the counsel, “This is not the stage to interfere, just. 48 hours before the polling. We cannot interfere at this stage.” Counsel then asked them to intervene, saying “as today they are seeking votes by promising things for minorities, tomorrow it will be for majority.” He said the Congress promises schools and hospitals for minorities, establishment of Madrasa Boards, Christian Development Board, Constitution of Waqf Property Development Corporation etc.
He said the petition has been filed to uphold the secular fabric of the Constitution, which is being jeopardized by the Congress by making appeal in the Election Manifesto of the party circulated for upcoming Karnataka Assembly Election.
The petition said appeals to Muslim and other minority voters to vote in favour of their party alluring them by declaring number of beneficial schemes to be implemented on formation of Government solely on the basis of the religion is prohibited by Article 15 and 27 of the Constitution. The petitioner said it also violated Section 123(3) of the Representation of People Act.
It also said the appeal particularly to Muslims voters to vote for Congress, as they will be benefited financially and otherwise on the basis of religion has polluted entire election and the effect is that election will be contested on communal basis.
Since the illegality is being committed by the a political party affecting all 224 segments of Karnataka Assembly Election there will be no remedy, the petitioner said and sought a declaration that all the Congress candidates should be disqualified to contest the polls....