New Delhi: Steering clear of controversy, the Supreme court of India, which is hearing a contentious matter relating to electoral malpractices arising out of its 1995 judgement, popularly known as the 'Hindutva' verdict, on Tuesday said it would not examine the issue of Hindutva at this stage.
A seven judge constitution bench of the Supreme court of India made it clear that it will not revisit the 1995 SC judgment that laid down the proposition that Hindusism/ Hindutva - is a way of life and state of mind - thereby clarifying that seeking votes in name of hindutva is not a corrupt practice under the election laws.
"We will not go into the larger debate as to what is Hindutva or what is its meaning. We will not re-consider the 1995 judgement and also not examine Hindutva or religion at this stage," a seven-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said.
"At this stage, we will confine ourselves to the issue raised before us in the reference. In the reference, there is no mention of the word 'Hindutva'. If anybody will show that there is a reference to the word 'Hindutva', we will hear him. We will not go into Hindutva at this stage," the bench, which also comprised Justices M B Lokur, S A Bobde, A K Goel, U U Lalit, D Y Chandrachud and L Nageshwar Rao, said.
The remarks were made by the bench when, at the outset of the hearing, some advocates sought to intervene in the ongoing hearing which commenced last Tuesday.
This clarification disposed off the application by social activist Teesta Setalvad stating that religion and politics should not be mixed and a direction be passed to de-link religion from politics. After making the remarks, the bench resumed the hearing with senior advocate Shyam Divan continuing with his submissions.
The seven judge bench has clarified that it will look only into the issue of whether seeking votes in the name of religion amounts to corrupt practice under the election laws.
Teesta Setalvad in her petition raised the issue that in the absence of any clarity on the matter, political parties use religious appeals for garnering votes under the color of the proposition that “Hindutva” is not a religion but a “way of life”.
The practice undertaken by priests or clergymen appealing to voters to support a candidate in the name of god or religion has also in the recent past been scrutinised as a violation of elections laws.
This seven judge SC bench has come together to primarily determine and interpret the question if seeking votes in the name of religion, god or religious denomination amounted to corrupt practice under election law.
In 1995 a three judge bench of the Supreme court, headed by the then Chief justice of India J S Verma had delivered a controversial judgment that categorically held that an appeal to hindutva/ Hinduism did not automatically mean an appeal to hindus in the name of religion.