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Should religious parties be banned?

Monday 4 October 2004

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Centre, Election Commission and six national political parties including Congress and BJP on a PIL seeking derecognition of parties with religion in their name in violation of Consitution’s "secular" provisions.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice R C Lahoti and Justice G P Mathur also issued notices to 22 political parties including Indian Union of Muslim League (IUML), Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasaba (ABHM), All India Christian Democratic and Backward People’s Party, Rashtriya Hindu Mahasabha and Akali Dal.

The petition filed by N Kunju through advocate P V Dinesh contended that as per Constitution India was a secular State and specifically provided for separation of religion from governance.

"Political parties are formed to fight elections to attain power democratically so that they can form government. As such poltiical parties have to be secular," Dinesh said.

"Why then that the Election Commission was allowing registration of parties in the name of religion," he argued.

It was for the EC to monitor that political parties remained secular and it had the requisite powers not to register a political paty which had the tag of religion in their names, Dinesh said.

"Some political parties have the tag of religion with their names, which is a proof of their mixing religion with politics," Dinesh said.

"By their very name they declare themselves to be religious parties and never be described as secular," Dinesh added.

P.S.

in "The Times of India", Monday, October 4, 2004.

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