A seven-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur has said that for now it will not touch on its 1995 definition of “Hindutva is a way of life and not a religion” and also not ban its use during elections.
“At this stage, we will confine ourselves to the issue raised before us in the reference. In the reference, there is no mention of the word ‘Hindutva’. If anybody will show that there is a reference to the word ‘Hindutva’, we will hear him. We will not go into Hindutva at this stage,” the bench, which also comprised Justices M B Lokur, S A Bobde, A K Goel, U U Lalit, D Y Chandrachud and L Nageshwar Rao, said.
The SC said that it would not examine the larger issue of whether Hindutva means Hindu religion, and whether the use of Hindutva in elections is permissible.
Last week, social activist Teesta Setalvad had sought to intervene in the matter with an application stating that religion and politics should not be mixed and a direction be passed to de-link religion from politics.
The remarks were made by the bench when, at the outset of the hearing, some advocates sought to intervene in the ongoing hearing.
The 7-judge SC bench said it is examining a nexus between religious leaders and candidates and its legality under Section 123 (3) of the Representation of the People Act.
In elections in Maharashtra after the 1992-93 Mumbai riots, Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi had promised to turn Maharashtra into India’s first Hindu State. The Bombay High Court nullified Joshi’s election as by seeking vote in the name of religion he violated the constitutional commitment to secularists.