Madras High Court Seeks ECI Response on PIL for Voter Education Against Caste and Religion-Based Appeals

Mainstream
04-Jun-2024
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On Monday, the Madras High Court called upon the Election Commission of India (ECI) to respond to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking continuous educational campaigns to inform citizens against seeking votes based on religion and caste. The PIL was filed by Vellore-based lawyer Rajesh Anouar Mahimaidass.

The bench, consisting of Acting Chief Justice R Mahadevan and Justice Mohammed Shaffiq, instructed the ECI to submit their reply within 12 weeks. Mahimaidass, who represented himself, urged the Court to mandate the ECI to utilize its extensive powers to conduct year-long, nationwide campaigns. These campaigns would educate voters about the Constitution's secular principles and highlight that soliciting votes based on religion, caste, or language constitutes corrupt electoral practice.

Mahimaidass pointed to the preamble of the Constitution, which underscores India's identity as a secular nation. He referenced the Supreme Court's ruling in the case of *Abhiram Singh v. CD Commachen*, which interpreted Section 123(1) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, affirming that appealing for votes in the name of religion, caste, or language is corrupt practice.

"Despite the law of the land being very clear, it was common practice across the country for political parties and their representatives to polarize voters on the basis of religion, caste, and language not only during the election period but also otherwise," the PIL stated.

The Court's directive for the ECI to respond to this PIL highlights the ongoing challenge of ensuring free and fair elections in India. The PIL aims to address the entrenched issue of identity politics by promoting continuous voter education, thus striving for a more informed and equitable electoral process.

Author: Anushka Taraniya 

News writer