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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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Man held for making hoax bomb call for Taj Mahal

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Agra, 4 March : The Agra police have arrested the man who made a hoax call on Thursday morning claiming that there was a bomb in the Taj Mahal.

The man identified as Vimal Kumar Singh, is a resident of Nakhi in Uttar Pradesh’s Firozabad. Inspector General (IG) Satish Ganesh said that Singh was being interrogated.

“It seems he is of unsound mind and is being treated for the disorder. We are also trying to locate his location at the time when he made the call,” the IG said. He said that further investigations were underway.

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India

SKM announces 5-hr blockade at KMP expressway on 100th day of protest

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New Delhi, 3 March: The Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) expressway will be blocked for five hours on March 6 as the farmers’ protest against the three Central farm laws complete 100 days, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) announced on Tuesday after a meeting held on the 96th day of the protest to prepare future strategy.

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People in Delhi rejected BJP for corruption: AAP

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New Delhi, March 4 : After winning four out of five municipal seats in Delhi’s civic bodies’ bypolls on Wednesday, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) attacked MCD ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) which failed to secure even a single seat. The AAP slammed the BJP saying that the people of Delhi were fed up with rampant corruption in civic agencies in the city under its 15 years rule.

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