Supreme Court dismisses Muthalik’s plea against Congress manifesto in Karnataka

The Supreme Court today dismissed Rashtriya Hindu Sena chief Pramod Muthalik’s plea alleging that the Congress party was seeking votes in the name of religion in its election manifesto in Karnataka.

There were a plethora of apex court judgments which say that once the poll process begins, no court shall interfere with it, said a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.

The bench also said that assuring minority communities about elevating them from social and economic backwardness did not amount to seeking votes on the ground of religion and this has been held by the constitution bench judgment.

The court, however, said Muthalik can take a statutory remedy after the poll process is over.

The Rashtriya Hindu Sena chief had sought directions to the Election Commission to delete the Congress party’s alleged appeal in its manifesto.

The plea had alleged that the appeal to vote on religious basis was made in pages 36 and 37 of the manifesto in the section headlined ‘Social justice-strengthening the social fabric for smooth progress’.

Under the sub-head ‘ensure right to equality’ in the manifesto released on April 27, the Congress proposes to improve social and economic status of minorities by allocating more budget for their welfare programmes.

Besides a proposal to establish Madrasa Board, it talks about Christian development board to manage the affairs of Christian community. It also proposes to construct 1,000 Maulana Azad schools in the state.

In the relevant pages, the Congress promises an insurance scheme for health and children’s education of minority auto and taxi drivers in the manifesto. It also speaks of upgrading Morarji Desai Schools with hostels for girls, under the sub-heading of the ‘ensure right to equality’ of the Congress manifesto.

Muthalik’s petition sought disqualification of Congress candidates and derecognition of the Congress as a national party.

The Assembly election in Karnataka is slated for May 12 and the results are scheduled to be announced on May 15.

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