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Parliament did nothing to curb religion’s misuse in polls: SC

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“Parliament has done nothing in the last 20 years while the reference was pending. Maybe it is waiting for us to pronounce judgment like in the sexual harassment case,” said Chief Justice Takhur, who is heading the bench.

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New Delhi, 20 Oct, 2016 :   The Supreme Court on Thursday said Parliament has done nothing in the last two decades to stop misuse of religion for electoral gains.

The apex court’s seven-judge Constitution Bench asked why it (court) should not step in to make seeking of votes by raking up religion a corrupt electoral practise under the Representation of People Act.

Observing that Parliament did noting since 1996 when a five-judge bench made a reference to a seven-judge bench on the impact of using Hindutva in elections vis-a-vis Section 132 (3) of the Act, Chief Justice T.S. Thakur asked if it (Parliament) was waiting for the apex court to pronounce a verdict as in case of curbing sexual harassment at work places through what are known as Vishaka guidelines.

“Parliament has done nothing in the last 20 years while the reference was pending. Maybe it is waiting for us to pronounce judgment like in the sexual harassment case,” said Chief Justice Takhur, who is heading the bench.

Besides the Chief Justice, Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, and Justice L. Nageswara Rao are on the Constitution Bench.

“The essence, the ethos of our constitutional system is secularism. Religion and politics don’t mix. (Are) Elections a secular activity or not? In a secular state, can religion be brought into secular activities?” Chief Justice Thakur observed.

The Chief Justice said this as senior counsel Shyam Divan, appearing for former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Sunderlal Patwa, said that “an appeal by a candidate to voters other than those who share his religion is not proscribed”.

At this, the Chief Justice said: “Let us take the case of Patwa. He belongs to the Jain community. But some person acting on his behalf makes an appeal that Patwa — though a Jain — will help in making the Ram Mandir (at Ayodhya). This is an appeal in the name of religion and not the candidate.”

“Is it not an appeal for vote in the name of religion? The very purpose of the legislation (Act) is to ensure there is no basis for religion. Religion should be separated from the political process,” the Chief Justice said.

In 1995, a Supreme Court bench headed by the then Chief Justice J.S. Verma ruled that Hindutva was not a religion but a way of life, but a year later a five-judge bench disagreed and referred it to a larger bench.

The question before the seven-judge bench is whether seeking votes in the name of religion amounts to corrupt practice under the Representation of People Act, leading to unseating of a lawmaker.

Meanwhile, social activist Teesta Setalvad, academic Shamshul Islam and journalist Dilip Mandal have moved an impleadment application to seek authoritative pronouncement on Hindutva so that it could not be used during elections for influencing voters.

The bench told senior counsel Indira Jaisinh, who mentioned the application for impleading by the three, that it would not go into the whole issue afresh as “it is difficult to define religion. There will be no end to this”.

The hearing will continue on October 24.

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Put farm laws on hold or we will do it, Chief Justice Bobde tells government

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New Delhi, 11 Jan : A Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde on Monday toughened its stand on the farm laws and said the court has made up its mind to stay the implementation of the three farm laws, which have led to the protest by thousands of farmers at various Delhi borders.

“What is going on? States are rebelling against your laws”, a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde told the Centre. “We are extremely disappointed with the negotiation process,” he said.

“If the Centre does not want to stay the implementation of farm laws, we will put a stay on it,” the CJI added.

“We don’t want to make any stray observations on your negotiations but we are extremely disappointed with the process,” said the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

The apex court, which was hearing a clutch of pleas challenging the new farm laws as well as the ones raising issues related to the ongoing agitation at Delhi borders, said it is not talking about the repeal of these farm laws at the moment.

“This is a very delicate situation,” the bench said, adding, “There is not a single petition before us which says that these farm laws are beneficial.”

“We will stay implementation of laws,” the CJI said. “You can carry on the protest. But the question is whether the protest should be held at the same site,” he added.

“Some people have committed suicide, old people and women are a part of the agitation. What is happening?” he said.

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India

Farmer agitation enters 47th day, all eyes on SC hearing pleas on protests

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New Delhi, 11 Jan : The farmer agitation on the borders of the national capital entered the 47th day on Monday as the farmers have taken to the streets protesting against the three central farm laws. But now all eyes are glued on the Supreme Court which would conduct a hearing on various pleas related to the farmers’ agitation and the new farm laws on Monday.

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India

Talks with farmers end without breakthrough, dialogue may resume on Jan 8

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New Delhi, 4 Jan : The crucial seventh round of talks between the government and 41 farmers representatives ended without any breakthrough and the next round of talks is expected on January 8, sources said.

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