The Hindu
New Delhi

As many as 57 lawmakers in Parliament and State legislatures have cases registered against them for promoting enmity between religious groups.

An analysis of the self-sworn affidavits of candidates who have contested the Parliamentary and Assembly elections since 2008 shows that 17 sitting MPs and 40 sitting MLAs have cases against them under Sections 153 A, 295 A and 295 of the Indian Penal Code.

Section 153 A relates to promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language; Section 295 pertains to destruction, damage or defilement of a place of worship or an object held sacred with intent to insult the religion of a class of persons; and Section 295 A relates to deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings.

A total of 131 candidates, who were given tickets by different political parties, had cases registered against them under Sections 153 A of the IPC but they lost the elections.

The analysis was done by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the National Election Watch (NEW), two NGOs that work for transparency and accountability in public life.

Prominent politicians who have been booked for promoting enmity between religious groups include Varun Gandhi of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who has four cases against him; Asaduddin Owaisi of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) with three cases; and senior BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh and Murali Manohar Joshi with one case each.

Going by the analysis, with 14 MPs and MLAs, the BJP has the highest number of lawmakers booked under 153 A.

The Hyderabad-based AIMIM comes second with five of its members (1 MP and 4 MLAs) booked under the same section. The Samajwadi Party, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti and the Janata Dal (United) are third with four members each booked for promoting enmity.

In a statement issued on Friday, the two NGOs argued that by giving tickets to such candidates, political parties have been, in a way, abetting the circumstances that lead to communal riots and violence between different groups.

The NGOs clarified that they are not aware of the current status of the criminal cases declared by the candidates. “We will know about their current status in case these candidates contest another election and submit a fresh affidavit.”

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