Supreme Court rejects PIL to ban namesake candidates in electoral process, here's why

The case stemmed from a public interest litigation filed by Sabu Stephen. Stephen argued that namesake candidates, who often stand in significant constituencies, confuse voters and impact the fairness of elections.

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Courtesy: ANI

In a recent decision, the Supreme Court of India has rejected a plea to ban namesake candidates from participating in elections. The court emphasized that individuals cannot be barred from contesting polls solely based on having names similar to prominent political figures.

The case stemmed from a public interest litigation filed by Sabu Stephen. Stephen argued that namesake candidates, who often stand in significant constituencies, confuse voters and impact the fairness of elections. He urged the Election Commission of India to intervene and prevent such practices to ensure transparent and fair electoral processes.

Court's decision

Justice BR Gavai, presiding over the case, declined to entertain the plea. He pointed out that candidates with similar names, such as Rahul Gandhi and Lalu Prasad Yadav, cannot be restricted from participating in elections if their parents have given them those names. The court permitted the petitioner to withdraw the plea.

Namesake candidates' strategy

Namesake candidates have been a longstanding tactic in elections. Political parties sometimes field candidates with names resembling those of prominent opponents to confuse voters. This strategy aims to siphon votes away from heavyweight candidates, potentially influencing election outcomes.

The Ramanathapuram Lok Sabha seat in Tamil Nadu exemplifies this phenomenon. Former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, known as OPS, is contesting independently. Additionally, there are four other Panneerselvams in the candidate list, all running independently.

Similar instances are observed in Maharashtra's Raigad seat, where multiple candidates named Anant Geete are contesting against each other, including one from Shiv Sena.