'Hindutva is not a religion, but a way of life and a state of mind': Supreme Court refuses to overturn its 1995 judgement
- The SC said it will not reconsider its 1995 judgment on Hindutva
- Crucial decision means Hindutva not a corrupt practice during polls
The immediate larger consequence of this is that seeking votes in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur in the name of ‘hindutva’ will continue to be legal and not deemed a “corrupt” practice under the Representation of People’s Act.
“We will not go into the larger debate as to what Hindutva is. We are only focusing on the question - will a religious leader’s appeal to his followers to vote for a particular political party amount to electoral malpractice under Section 123 of the Representation of People Act?”
This was the clarification of a seven judge bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur, which also dismissed a plea of social activist Teesta Setalvad known for her anti-hindutva brigade stance.
What is Hindutva?
She had asked the bench to redefine Hindutva and also sought a ban on the use of the term in elections.
Setalvad had sought to intervene in the matter with an application stating that religion and politics should not be mixed and a direction be passed to de-link religion from politics.
Setalvad’s plea came while the top court is examining a question arising out of a separate plea filed in 1990 which said:
Will a religious leader’s appeal to his followers to vote for a particular political party amount to electoral malpractice under Section 123 of the Representation of People Act.
Clarifying it further, SC bench said it is only examining a nexus between religious leaders and candidates and its legality under Section 123 (3) of the Representation of People Act.
The ambit of Section 123(3) of the Representation of People Act, provides for the disqualification of a candidate, if he, or any one on his behalf, is found “promoting or attempting to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language, for furtherance of the prospects of the election of that candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate.”
In elections in Maharashtra after the 1992-93 Mumbai riots, Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi had promised to turn Maharashtra into India’s first Hindu State.
The Bombay High Court nullified Joshi’s election as by seeking vote in the name of religion he violated the constitutional commitment to secularism.
However, the former Chief Justice of India, J.S. Verma, heading a three-judge Bench of the apex court, overturned the High Court verdict which came to be known as the ‘Hindutva’ judgment.