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Seeking votes on religious basis a corrupt practice: SC (Relevant for GS Prelims and Mains paper II)

Explanation given by SC :
Terming religion a very private relationship between man and his God, a seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, held that an appeal for votes during elections on the basis of religion, caste, race, community or language, even that of the electorate, will amount to a ‘corrupt practice’ and call for disqualification of the candidate.

Background:
The court was interpreting the pronoun ‘his’ used in Section 123 (3) of the Representation of the People Act, whether the word ‘his’ only meant a bar on appeals made in the name of the candidate or his rival or his agent or others in his immediate camp. Or, does the word also extend to soliciting votes on the basis of the religion, caste, community, race, language of the electorate as a whole.

As per Supreme Court, the word ‘his religion, race, caste, community or language’ appearing in section 123(3) would mean the religion, race caste or community of the candidate or the voter/ elector.

Wording of Section 123(3) Representation of the People Act: 
123. Corrupt practices.—The following shall be deemed to be corrupt practices for the purposes of this Act:— 
Clause (3) The appeal by a candidate or his agent or by any other person with the consent of a candidates or his election agent to vote or refrain from voting for any person on the ground of his religion, race, caste, community or language or the use of, or appeal to religious symbols or the use of, or appeal to, national symbols, such as the national flag or the national emblem, for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of that candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate

The Representation of People Act, 1951 is an act of Parliament of India for the conduct of elections of the Houses of Parliament or Houses of the Legislature of each State, the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses, the corrupt practices and other offences in connection with such elections. 



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