02/01/2017 11:43 AM IST | Updated 02/01/2017 12:10 PM IST

Politicians Can't Seek Votes In The Name Of Caste, Creed or Religion, Says Supreme Court

Elections are a secular exercise, the apex court said in a landmark ruling.

Ramesh Lalwani

In a landmark ruling the Supreme Court has said on Monday that politicians cannot seek votes in the name of caste, creed or religion, and if votes were sought on such bases, the poll would be declared null and void.

The Indian Express reported that a seven-judge bench, while hearing several petitions in the 1996 Hindutva case, said that elections were a secular exercise and any candidate violating the rules would be disqualified.

Earlier, in the same case, a bench headed by Justice JS Verma had ruled that Hinduism was a way of life and hence a mere reference to it wasn't a corrupt practice.

On Monday, the bench also said that man's relationship with God was completely personal and the state was "forbidden to interfere in such activity".

According to a News18 report, while outgoing Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, Justice Sharad Bobde, Justice Madan Lokur and Justice Rao agreed that votes could not be sought in the name of caste or religion, the other three judges in the bench -- Justice UU Lalit, Justice Adarsh Goel and Justice DY Chandrachud –- disagreed.

The Supreme Court ruling comes right ahead of the Uttar Pradesh poll, state where politicians are known to canvass for votes by playing the caste and religion card.

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