The CPI(M) on Thursday became the first political party to intervene in the ongoing Supreme Court hearing on whether seeking votes in the name of religion or caste amounted to “corrupt practices” under the Representation of the People’s (RP) Act. The party filed an application for intervention, through its General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, saying it was an interested party in the case as it had considerable stake in the democratic electoral process of the country. The case is being heard by a seven-member Constitution bench.
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“It is respectfully submitted that since this Court is considering the interpretation of Section 123(3) and (3A) of the Representation of People’s Act, the applicant, which actively participates in democratic process of this country, is seeking kind indulgence of this Court to present its views in the interest of justice,” the petition said.
“The applicant herein is an interested party in the civil appeal as it has a considerable stake in the democratic elctoral process of this country,” it said.
The CPI(M), in its plea, also submitted that it believed in secularism and quoted its Programme saying it was committed to wage an “uncompromising struggle” for the consistent implementation of the principles of secularism.
“While defending the right of every religious community -whether it is the majority or the minorities, as well as those who have no faith in any religion to believe in and practice any religion or none at all, the Party should fight against all forms of intrusion of religion in the economic, political and administrative life of the nation and uphold secular and democratic values in culture, education and society,” the plea quoted the Party Programme as saying.
The apex court had on Wednesday raised the question whether seeking of votes on the basis of religion, caste or tribe would amount to “corrupt practice” under the election law.
In its petition to the apex court, the CPI(M) said “the threat to the secular foundations has become menacing with the rise of the communal and fascistic RSS-led combine and its assuming power at the Centre. Systematic efforts are on to communalise the institutions of the state, the administration, the educational system and the media.”
The CPI(M) said “the growth of majority communalism will strengthen the forces of minority communalism and endanger national unity” and is fraught with serious consequenses for democracy and secularism in the country. Social activist Teesta Setalvad had earlier 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.