The Supreme Court is all set to revisit its two-decade-old judgement on electoral law categorising misuse of religion for electoral gains as “corrupt practice”. In 1995, a three-judge bench of the top court had pronounced that vote in name of “Hindutva/Hinduism” did not prejudicially affect any candidate.
The verdict was, however, challenged through three separate election petitions. Conducting hearing on the batch of petitions, the court had in February 2014 decided to refer the matter to a larger bench comprising seven judges.
The seven-judge bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and justices MB Lokur, SA Bobde, AK Goel, UU Lalit, DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao is likely to begin the hearing on the matter today afternoon.
In the original judgement, delivered in the case of Manohar Joshi (Shiv Sena leader) versus NB Patil, Justice JS Verma had found that statement by Joshi that “first Hindu State will be established in Maharashtra did not amount to appeal on ground of religion”.
The observation was made while dealing with the question regarding the scope of corrupt practices mentioned in sub-section (3) of Section 123 of the 1951 Representation of People Act.
The issue for interpretation of sub-section (3) of Section 123 of the Act once again had come on January 30, 2014 before a five-judge which had also referred it for examination before a larger bench of seven judges.
The seven judges will also be dealing with the appeal filed in 1992 by BJP leader Abhiram Singh, whose election to 1990 Maharashtra Assembly was set aside in 1991 by the Bombay High Court.
While the five-judge bench was hearing this matter on January 30, 2014 it was informed that an identical issue was raised in the election petition filed by one Narayan Singh against BJP leader Sunderlal Patwa and the apex court’s another Constitution Bench of five Judges has referred it to a larger bench of seven Judges.