Lotus, holding religious value in Hinduism and Buddhism cannot be used as an election symbol: IUML to Supreme Court

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On March 20, 2023, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) told the Supreme Court of India to also make BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) one of the respondents in a petition seeking a ban on religious symbols as well as names by political parties. This is because the religious symbol of the BJP is ‘Lotus’ which according to respondents has a religious value and thus Can't be used as election symbol. During the hearing, the Advocate appearing for the Muslim League, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, told the Supreme Court bench including Justices CT Ravikumar and MR Shah, “We have also filed an application to include a large number of parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party because its symbol is a “Kamal”, which is a religions symbol.” There is a significant value of the Lotus in Hinduism and Buddhism. An application submitted by the IUML stated that “According to Hinduism, within each human is the spirit of the sacred lotus. It represents eternity, purity, divinity, and is widely used as a symbol of life, fertility, and ever-renewing youth. The lotus flower is used to describe feminine beauty, especially female eyes. For Buddhists, the lotus flower symbolizes the most exalted state of humans; head held high, pure and undefiled in the sun, feet rooted in the world of experience. Further, it is submitted that God Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, and Lakshmi mata are also associated with the lotus flower in Hinduism.”

The PIL (Public Interest Litigation) was filed by former UP Shia Waqf Board Chairman Syed Waseem Rizvi (currently known as Jitendra Narayan Tyagi) against the grievances with the registration of political parties having religious symbols, names, or logos. In the submitted application by the IUML, the name of 27 political parties, alleged to use religion in their name and symbols were mentioned which are listed as follows:

  1. Shiromani Akali Dal
  2. Shiv Sena
  3. Akhil Bharatiya Muslim League
  4. Akhil Bhartiya Ram Rajyya Parishad
  5. Akhil Bharathiya Shiv Sena Rashtrawadi
  6. All India Christian Democratic and Backward People’s Party
  7. Christian Democratic Front
  8. Christian Mannetra Kazhakam
  9. Hindu Ekta Andolan Party
  10. Hindu Munnani
  11. Hindu Samhathi
  12. Hindu Makkal Katchi
  13. Hindu Mahasabha
  14. Hindu Sena
  15. Indian Christian Front
  16. Indian Christian Secular Party
  17. Islam Party Hind
  18. Majdoor Kisan Akali Dal
  19. Muslim Majlis Uttar Pradesh
  20. Paschim Banga Rajya Muslim League
  21. Sehajdhari Sikh Party
  22. Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar- Simranjit Singh Mann)
  23. Shiromani Akali Dal (Republic)
  24. Shiromani Youth Akali Dal (Kahlon)
  25. Shiromani Lok Dal Party
  26. Shivaji Congress Party
  27. Shivrajya Party

During the hearing, ECI told the Supreme Court in its counter-affidavit that under the Representation of the People’s Act, 1951, there is no express statutory provision that prohibits the registration of political parties with names having religious connotations. In addition, Senior Advocate Venugopal pointed out that Section 123(3) of the Act prohibits the appeal for votes on the grounds of religion, caste, language, community, and others which will further affect the parties such as the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura. The bench hearing the matter gave four weeks to the counsel for the respondents to place on record similar pleas that were pending before Delhi as well as other High Courts.

Also Read: Supreme Court Updates