A bench of Justices M R Shah and B V Nagarathna was hearing a PIL filed by former Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board chairman Wasim Ahmed Rizvi. The petitioner, who has recently embraced Hinduism, sought the court’s direction to restrain political parties from using names and symbols associated with religion.
As the petition named only fSC ew political parties like Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and All India Majlis-Elttehandul Muslimeen (AIMM), senior advocate Dushayant Dave and lawyer Haris Beeran,, appearing for IUML, raised strong objections to only Muslim parties being impleaded in the case. Dave said he had raised objection in the last hearing also and the court should first examine his objection before proceeding in the case. In a submission in the last hearing, Dave asked why other parties like Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal had not been made parties in the case and submitted that the petitioner cannot be selective in targeting only a few.
“What is being told is that the petitioner must be secular…. You must be fair to everybody,” Justice Nagarathna observed.
The court thereafter asked the petitioner to implead other political parties also in the case so that they could argue and defend in the court hearing..
Opposing a plea seeking cancellation of names and symbols of existing political parties which resonate with religion, the Election Commission earlier told the Supreme Court that there is no express provision which bars associations with religious connotations to register themselves as political parties. Filing an affidavit in response to a PIL, the poll panel told the court that cancelling the symbol allotted to political parties with religious connotation will be legally untenable.
It brought to the notice of the court that Representation of People Amendment Bill was introduced in 1994 and it was proposed that a proviso be added under subsection (7) of Section 29A of the Act stating that no association bearing religious name would be registered as a political party, but the Bill was not passed and consequently lapsed with the dissolution of the then Lok Sabha.
“Therefore, as per the present statute, there is no express provision which bars associations with religious connotations to register themselves as political parties under Section 29A of the RP Act, 1951,” the EC said.
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