The Indian constitution provides for freedom of worship to all the people of India, for all the citizens of the country with equal rights. This is certainly parise-worthy and everyone has a right to worship in his own way. But this religious freedom becomes an evil when it is misused, when religious appeals are made for securing votes. Religion was used in this way before the demolition of the disputed structure is Ayodhya. Religious frenzy was aroused, the slogan was, “jai shri Ram, Ho Gya Kam” and thousands of Kar Sewaks reached Ayodhya. The matter was under the consideration of the Prime Minister, the Supreme Court and a sub-committee of scholars from both sides. But appeal had been made to the passion of the people, they were beyond control, and the disputed structure was demolished.
All these happenings in Ayodhya clearly demonstrate the evils of making appeals to religious feelings of the people for political gain. This is communalism of the worst kind and hence there were communal riots all over the country. It was as if people had lost mental balance and were out to destroy their religious rivals. Had these people succeeded the country would have disintegrated. It was forgotten that India is the meeting ground of many religions, and all religions are to be respected, for after all they are all different roads that lead to God.
The government acted firmly and promptly and the county was saved from disintegration. Through the disputed structure was demolished peace was soon restored both in Ayodhya and the country, for prime Minister immediately said that both the Babri Masjid and the Grand Ram Temple would be constructed and this would be done not by politicians but by the religious leader of both sides. A large plot of land was acquired and the whole issue was referred to the Supreme Court. The government is committed to act in accordance with the judgment of the Supreme Court.
In order to prevent the misuse of religion for political ends, the Govt. drafted a bill for the purpose and it was discussed in the parliament. However, the Government was compelled to withdraw the bill as it lacked the requisite majority. But the bill is not dropped, it will come up again for discussion and it is hoped that this time it would be passed.
Though all are agreed that religion should be delinked from politics, there are certain flaws in the bill which it would be better to remove to acquire-universal support for the bill and make its passage easy in parliament. The principal opposition relates to the proposed pre-poll disqualification provision. Critics appear to apprehend that the bill does not contain adequate safeguard to prevent abuse of the pre-poll disqualification by rival candidates or by the ruling political party which it is believed will use political influence to disqualify large number of candidates during the run up to the polling day. It is apprehended that the machinery for exercising the statutory discretion to disqualify a candidate provided in the proposed amendment is not effective enough, that sufficient
Safeguards are not inbuilt and finally that it is liable to serious abuse.
In this context, it becomes particularly necessary to suggest a workable solution in respect of what certainly appears to be a serious flaw in the proposed amendment, while preserving the rest of the amendment which contains what is intrinsically a laudable attempt to cleanse the Indian-polity of widespread electoral malpractices. A special Tribunal (and not merely the returning officer)for purpose of deciding issues of disqualification, to remove such matters from the jurisdiction of the relatively Junior Official like the Returning Officer, to ensure that the proposed Tribunal comprises persons of stature, impendence, impartiality and integrity to provide for provisional disqualification by this Tribunal at the first instance, to announce such provisional decision after closure of polling but before commencement of counting, to make this provisional decision subject to final confirmation by the High court within a time bound schedule(say 60 to 90) after the completion of the poll, to provide for modalities of declaration of result in the interregnum, to avoid any constitutional amendment, and to minimize statutory amendments to the ROPA 1951, to extended the jurisdiction of such Special Tribunal in respect of all corrupt practices (and not merely appeals based on religion) and to deal with other related matters, is essential.
If these safeguards and amendments are introduced there is no reason why the bill should not be passed by the Parliament by an overwhelming majority.