SC asks whether mass religious appeals for electoral gains can be categorised corrupt practice

The seven-judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court has questioned whether the practice of using the mass religious appeal by leaders to canvas votes for candidates amounts to a corrupt electoral practice.
The SC bench led by Chief Justice Chief Justice is re-considering its 1995 verdict which had held that canvassing votes in name of ‘Hindutva/Hinduism’ wasn’t a corrupt electoral practice, as Hinduism was not a religion but a way of life in India.

  • Recently, the Constitution Bench of SC raised question of using the mass appeal of religious while testing the limits of Section 123 of Representation of the People Act.
  • It was looking into the various means by which misuse of religion or faith of the masses for electoral gains can be categorised as a corrupt practice.
  • It was also looking into electoral practices of political parties and candidates to rope in clerics or priests to flex their religious sway over particular religious community to swing votes.

What 1995 verdict says?

  • The Representation of the People Act bars candidates and political parties to appeal appeal in the name of religion. If found guilty for violation, the candidate can be disqualified.
  • The 1995 judgment delivered by Justice JS Verma had seeking votes in the name of Hinduism is not a “corrupt practice” under Section 123 of Representation of the People Act.



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