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PIL in Madras HC against electioneering on religion ,caste or language basis

- June 3, 2024

Chennai, June 3 (BPNS)

The Madras High Court has sought the response of the Election Commission of India (ECI) to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) for a campaign against seeking votes on the grounds of religion, caste or language.

The first division bench of Acting Chief Justice R. Mahadevan and Justice Mohammed Shaffiq ordered notice to the Election Commission of India (ECI) returnable by 12 weeks.

The petitioner, Advocate Rajesh Anouar Mahimaidass of Vellore who filed the PIL had argued the case himself.

During the argument Advocate Rajesh told the court that the preamble of the Constitution unambiguously declares India to be a secular nation. He also cited the Supreme Court judgment in Abhiram Singh versus C.D. Commachen (2017) which had interpreted Section 123(1) of the Representation of the People Act ,1951 and declared that seeking votes in the name of religion, caste or language would amount to a corrupt electoral practice.

The petitioner during the argument insisted that an awareness campaign on the subject be conducted even during non-election periods. He also informed the court that he had made several representations to the ECI but there was response.

He said that to ensure that an awareness campaign be conducted across the country through mainstream and social media so that voters are not influenced by hate speeches.

Advocate Rajesh also wanted the ECI and Chief Electoral Officers of all states to disseminate this information prominently in their websites.

He also urged the court to appoint an independent commission of retired judges and human rights activists to oversee the enforcement of the Supreme Court verdict of 2017 in Abhiram Singh’s case.