The abuse of religion for seeking political power is an old story. History has few examples of successful efforts to delink the two. Turkey under Kemal Ataturk is one example. But the continuing political tribulations of that country shows how hard it is to maintain separation of these two volatile domains once they are mixed.
In India, home to religious pluralism not seen elsewhere, the problem is doubly difficult. Drawing the lines of separation is a difficult and contentious exercise.
It is against this background that the suggestions of the justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan commission and the Centre’s efforts to enact a law to curb the misuse of religion should be seen.
Because the problem is very different from the class of crimes that can be tried successfully in courts, it is not certain if ordinary judicial remedies will work here. If the government wants to check the problem, then such a law should drastically simplify procedural requirements for conviction. Otherwise, prosecutions under it will face slow death in courts.