The Representation of People Act, 1951, of the Parliament of India states,

Section 123(3) of the Representation of the People Act, defines a corrupt electoral practice as follows:

“The appeal by a candidate or his agent or by any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent to vote or refrain from voting for any person on the ground of his religion, race, caste, community and language....”

Which was upheld by the Supreme Court of India in 2017.

There are lot of political parties in India, which do canvas based on their caste/language/religion. In fact, the names of a lot of the Indian political parties are themselves caste and community names.

Are there any amendments made to this act to protect these parties?

If following religion/caste/community/language based electoral canvasing is a crime, why has there been no action taken against them?

1 Answer 1


There is no special protection from this law for any party or candidate, and the act provides for imprisonment for up to 3 years for a candidate who promotes feelings of religious hatred.

When you look at the positions taken by parties, you will note that they are careful not to make direct appeals to voters by religion, caste or language. Thus the BJP (often seen as being a party that promotes Hindus over other religious groups) has a policy of "Hindutva", which they explain to be cultural nationalism, favouring Indian culture over westernisation, (and not favouring Hindus over Christians or Muslims). As long as they claim that they favour Indian culture they are within the law.

Similarly, the BSP, generally seen as supporting Bahujan rights, does not directly say "don't vote for them because they are high caste". It does say that they want to improve the lives of those at the bottom of society, which is not illegal. Having the word "Bahujan" in the party name is not considered to be an appeal to vote on the grounds of caste.

If you believe that there are examples where a candidate has clearly broken the law, the RPA creates an electoral commission, with the power to enforce election law. If the electoral commission hasn't taken action, then they must believe that all parties are technically within the law, or they are not aware of any flagrant breaches of the law.

  • "...then they must believe that..." or they just don't care enough. Feb 6, 2018 at 8:52
  • These laws have flaws and if seriously implemented in a country like India, it will end up creating a lot of controversies and fights between supporters. Apr 6, 2018 at 16:47

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