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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

People look not just at names of political parties but also policies: Delhi High Court on PIL

The Delhi High Court on Thursday expressed reservations in dealing with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition to deregister political parties with caste, religious, ethnic and linguistic connotations [Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v Union of India & Anr].

A Division Bench of Acting Chief Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna said that these issues are in the policy domain and the parliament is the appropriate forum for such matters.

The Court cannot enter into this and make laws, the Bench emphasised.

Acting Chief Justice Manmohan remarked that people do not just vote for the names of the political parties but also look at their policies.

"You are only talking about the names of these parties. Name is not the clincher. You have to see the policies of the political parties. You will have to see how they are functioning. But all these issues have to be looked into by the parliament. It is their domain. They make the laws, we don't," the Court said.

Upadhyay filed the PIL in the Delhi High Court in the year 2019 seeking to deregister political parties having religious, caste, ethnic or linguistic connotations.

The law ministry told the Court today that it has no role to play in the matter.

The Election Commission of India said it took a policy decision in 2005 that no party with religious or caste names will be permitted.

However, the parties that came up before 2005 can continue to function, ECI's counsel told the Bench.

Meanwhile, Ashwini Upadhyay told the Court that political parties or candidates cannot seek votes in name of caste or religion but they can form parties that denote a particular caste or religion and therefore there is a clear gap in the law.

He argued that the political parties using the caste/religion names interferes with the process of free and fair elections and therefore, violates the basic structure of the Constitution.

The Bench, however, reiterated that these issues are not for the Court to decide.

"If we decide this, we will be entering into the policy domain... Parliament will take a call on this. This is their domain," the Court added.

Upadhyay then requested the Court to fix a date and hear the matter finally.

The Court listed the case for arguments on May 7, 2024.

"After elections!" Upadhyay remarked.

The bench smiled before adjourning the case.

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