The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the Election Commission to reply within four weeks to a plea to de-register the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on grounds that it was a religious organisation and not a secular political party.
“The SAD had obtained registration by fraud as it had signed an undertaking at the time of its registration to uphold the Constitution. One of those undertakings is that it shall be secular,” the plea, filed by social worker and Socialist Party of India vice-president Balwant Singh Khera, states.
“The SAD made that undertaking only to creatively pay lip-service to the requirement in order to obtain its registration… it knowingly filed a false undertaking when it is not secular,” Khera’s advocate Indira Unninayar told the court of Acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul.
The lawyer Unninayar also informed the court that neither the EC nor the SAD had filed proper replies to the plea, which had originally been filed in 2012.
In his plea, Khera had claimed that “his right to equality and non-discrimination guaranteed under Article 14 and right to freedom of religion guaranteed by Article 25, are both being repeatedly violated as religion is being admittedly introduced into the politics of Punjab by R2 (SAD), yet the State through its authorised body, R1(ECI), has repeatedly refused to take necessary action to restore/guard these rights.”
“We are seeking setting aside of the registration made under S 29 of the Representation of the People Act. A party is obliged to follow secularism but these people are not secular. They have been contesting gurdwara committee elections as a religious body, and their party specifies that all members must be practicing Sikhs,” Unninayar said.
The court has directed the EC to respond to the petition within four weeks, and also warned that it will pass orders ex-parte if a reply is not filed.