New Delhi: BJP-led governments of three states on Thursday told the Supreme Court that religion is part of the society and that the top court cannot lay down a “straitjacket standard” of what an election manifesto can contain.
According to a report in The Indian Express, the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan said that religion cannot be separated from society and that it is “not an anathema to the Constitution”.
The Supreme Court last week had made it clear that seeking votes in the name of religion should not be allowed in a secular country like India. The BJP rules states lodged their protest against its ruling.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta represented the states and submitted their arguments to a seven-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur, saying that courts cannot define yardsticks for what can be included in an election manifesto.
On Tuesday, the top court had clarified that it is not going into the larger debate as to what is Hindutva now and it will confine the scope to whether religion can be used to garner votes.
Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, heading the seven-judge bench, gave this clarification when counsel for social activist Teesta Setalvad sought impleadment in the proceedings and wanted the court to consider a ban on seeking votes in the name of religion.
The CJI pointed out that seeking votes in the name of religion by a candidate or on his behalf may be a greater evil than seeking votes in the name of caste or language as religious appeal is bound to influence the voters.
The CJI said, in a secular country any appeal to the voters should be in tune with secular philosophy and political agitation advancing the cause of religion with an intent to garner votes is not permissible.