India: high court bans religious references in elections
January 10, 2017
Emphasizing India’s nature as a secular state, the country’s Supreme Court has ruled that candidates may not invoke religion, race, ethnicity, or caste when campaigning.
Catholic observers, according to a UCA News report, cautioned that the ruling might not apply to Hindu candidates, since the court left in place a 1995 decision defining Hinduism as a way of life rather than a religion.
“The judgment could have been more complete and global had the court pronounced that seeking votes on the basis of the Hindu religion is against the secular ideals of India,” said Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the bishops’ conference.
The South Asian nation of 1.27 billion is 80% Hindu, 14% Muslim, 2% Christian, and 2% Sikh.
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