What is the mandate of Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act? Explain while keeping in focus the recent Supreme Court Judgement.
Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act talks about “corrupt electoral practices”.
It states that the consequences of being found guilty of engaging in any sort of corrupt electoral practice are severe – they could range from imprisonment to having the election declared void.
Section 123(3) of the Act declares a corrupt electoral practice to be:
“The appeal by a candidate or his agent or by any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent to vote or refrain from voting for any person on the ground of his religion, race, caste, community or language or the use of, or appeal to religious symbols or the use of, or appeal to, national symbols, such as the national flag or the national emblem, for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of that candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate.”
The recent judgement by the Supreme Court has stated that religion is a private relationship between man and his God. The apex court has further held that an appeal for votes during elections on the basis of religion, caste, race, community or language, even that of the electorate, will amount to a ‘corrupt practice’ and call for disqualification of the candidate.
It has further stated that “Election is a secular exercise and therefore a process should be followed.The relationship between man and God is an individual choice and state should keep this in mind.”
Therefore, through this judgement, Rabindranath Tagore’s phrase that election campaigns should transcend the fragmented ‘narrow domestic walls’ comes into reality and the true spirit of secular India gets strengthened.
Topics: GS-II: Constitutional Statutory Regulatory and Quasi Judicial Bodies
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