Religious Names & Symbols Of Political Parties: SC Allows Withdrawal Of Plea
The Supreme Court today allowed the withdrawal of the Public Interest Litigation seeking cancellation of the symbol and name allotted to the political parties that are religious in nature. Since the Delhi High Court is already seized of a similar case, the Court granted liberty to the Petitioners to approach the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution.
The Bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah noted the submissions of the Counsel appearing for the Petitioner that a similar case is pending before the High Court and allowed the petitioner to withdraw the petition with liberty to approach the High Court. "We seek to withdraw the petition with liberty to approach the High Court" requested the Advocate.
The Court dismissed the petition as withdrawn. The Bench noted in its order that the Court has not expressed anything on the merits of the matter.
Former Attorney General K. K. Venugopal appeared for the All India Majlis E Ittehadul Muslimeen and Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave for the IUML.
On March 20, 2023, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) had moved an application before the Supreme Court seeking impleadment of the Bharatiya Janata Party to the proceedings before the Apex Court for its symbol ‘Lotus’, which is ‘religious’ in nature. The Court had directed parties to place before it the details of the similar plea pending before the Delhi High Court.
The Supreme Court had issued notice on the plea on 5 September. Senior Advocate Gaurav Bhatia appearing for the Petitioner had submitted that two recognized state parties have the word "Muslim" in their name. He had submitted that as per the judgment of the Court in S R Bommai v Union of India, secularism is part of the basic feature of the Constitution and that political parties cannot have names or symbols with religious connotations.
The Petitioner Syed Waseem Rizvi had approached the Court seeking to enforce the mandate of Sections 29A, 123(3) and 123(3A) of the Representation of People Act, 1951 which prohibit luring of the voters on the ground of their religion.
In response, the Election Commission (EC) had told the Supreme Court that the commission had taken a policy decision in the year 2005 whereby it had decided that political parties with religious names or symbols will not be registered. The Commission had stated that since then, it has not registered any political party having religious connotations in its party name. The Election Commission had said in its counter affidavit filed before the Supreme Court that the existing political parties which are having religious connotations have become "legacy names as they have been in existence for decades" and that "Whether the names of these political parties may or- may not be disturbed is, accordingly, left open to the wisdom of this Hon'ble Court".
Cause Title: Syed Waseem Rizwi v. Election Commission of India & Anr [W.P.(C) No. 908 - / 2021]