SC rejects Muthalik's plea charging Cong seeking votes on religion basis

SC rejects Muthalik's plea charging Cong seeking votes on religion basis

Congress president Rahul Gandhi release his party's manifesto for the upcoming Karnataka Assembly elections in Mangaluru. DH file photo

The Supreme Court on Thursday said an assurance to improve socially and educationally backward communities in party manifesto cannot be termed as an appeal to voters on the basis of their religion.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud dismissed a petition filed by Rashtriya Hindu Sena chief, Pramod Muthalik, for direction to the Congress to delete their “appeal to vote on religious basis” made in its manifesto for the Karnataka Assembly polls on May 12.

The bench also explained to Muthalik's counsel Vishnu Shankar Jain that once election process has begun with the issuance of the notification, there were a series of judgments stating that the courts should not intervene in the matter.

"We are not inclined to entertain the petition. Once the election process is over, the petitioner, if aggrieved, can take the statutory remedy,” the court said.

In his contention, Muthalik's counsel said he was challenging the right to contest polls by the candidates of Indian National Congress party, as their manifesto made several promises especially for minority communities, including scholarships and building of hostels.

"This was against the constitutional injunction and the secular fabric of the country. This was also against a decision by the Constitution bench in 'Abhiram Singh case' on July 2, 2017,” he said, adding the Election Commission did not take any action on his complaint in this regard.

The court, however, said the decision of the Constitution bench would not apply in the case. It cited Section 100 of the Representation of the People Act, which stated that in case any candidate indulged in corrupt practice, the election may be declared as void.