The Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Monday said in a landmark decision that no politician can seek votes in the name of caste, creed or religion.
Adding that the 'relationship between man and God' is an individual choice and the state is forbidden to interfere in such an activity, that apex court said that election is a secular exercise.
The Supreme Court ruled on a batch of petitions that raised question before the top court if seeking votes in the name of religion was a corrupt practice under the Representtatio f the People Act, and if candidates who indulge in this exercise should be disqualified.
The seven-judge bench, comprised of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justices M. B. Lokur, S.A. Bobde, A.K. Goel, Uday Lalit, D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswar Rao.
"The essence, the ethos of our constitutional system is secularism, where religion and politics don't mix. Elections are a secular activity or not? In a secular state, can religion be brought into secular activities?" media quoted the court asking.
As per reports, the CJI also pointed out that seeking votes in the name of religion was a greater evil than seeking votes in the name of caste or language as religion influence voters.
The judgment will have implications in the states that will go to the polls soon, especially Uttar Pradesh. In UP, the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya continues to be a poll plank. In Punjab too, religion and sacrilege are top campaign issues.