The apex court would hear arguments for and against the plea from certain quarters to disqualify candidates if they used ‘Hindutva’ to seek votes in elections.

The Supreme Court would expedite hearing on a pending petition seeking to revisit the court’s two-decade-old interpretation of the term ‘Hindutva’ as a way of life, The Times of India reported.

The apex court would hear arguments for and against the plea from certain quarters to disqualify candidates if they used ‘Hindutva’ to seek votes in elections.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde would hear the petition, the report said. However, the hearing would begin after the bench completed hearing of arguments in the faith versus fundamental rights case arising from pleas seeking review of the court’s judgment striking down the religious custom banning entry of women in the 10-50 year age group into Lord Ayyappa temple in Kerala’s Sabarimala.

In 1992, the appeal was filed by BJP leader Abhiram Singh, whose election to 1990 Maharashtra Assembly was set aside in 1991 by the Bombay High Court.

When advocate Arvind Datar sought an early hearing on Singh’s petition, CJI Bobde said the opposite side wanted the court to revisit the definition of ‘Hindutva’.

“Their prayer is to offset the ‘Hindutva’ judgment. It will take time as long arguments are expected on the issue. We will try to hear this petition after completing hearing in the Sabarimala case,” the CJI was quoted as saying.

The apex court’s three-judge bench in 1995 had held that “Hindutva/Hinduism is a way of life of the people in the sub-continent” and “is a state of mind”. The observation was made while dealing with the question regarding the scope of corrupt practices mentioned in sub-section (3) of Section 123 of the 1951 Representation of People Act.“Mere use of the word ‘Hindutva’ or ‘Hinduism’ or mention of any other religion in an election speech does not bring it within the net of sub-section (3) and/or sub-section (3A) of Section 123, unless the further elements indicated are also present in that speech.” The court had said in its order.

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