A Supreme Court judge expresses concern over a judges’ conference being held on Good Friday, a national holiday
By: Ramesh Menon
A judge of the Supreme Court has in an anguished letter to chief justices of all the high courts expressed his concern about how a major event like the prestigious All India Chief Justices Conference is being organized on April 3, 2015, which falls on Good Friday.
In his letter, he said that this should not be done by a constitutional authority as the Supreme Court must respect the concept of why the national holiday was given. He even had a one-on-one meeting with the Chief Justice of India, HL Dattu.
Good Friday holds great religious importance to Christians and is observed as a day of mourning as it was the day Jesus Christ was crucified. It is considered a very important day of the Christian calendar.
The chief justice of India had clarified that as the date of the conference was fixed a long time ago, it would not be possible to change it as a large number of dignitaries like chief ministers from various parts of the country were participating in the conference. Justice Dattu himself will inaugurate the two-day event.
Christian leaders like Father Dominic Emmanuel of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese voiced unease about this. He told India Legal: “In a secular country, all religions have to be respected. It is not a question about a minority religion. It is about the Indian constitution which talks about respect to all religions. The death of Jesus Christ is a universally accepted fact and Good Friday is a remembrance of that day. It is a universally known fact. It would be in the order of things if this is
Supreme Court Judge Kurian Joseph told India Legal: “What worries me is that instances like this would mar the secular image of the country. What really matters is the message something like this is sending.”While Justice Kurian Joseph has raised the question of how inappropriate it is to have a conference on a religious occasion like Good Friday that is sacred to Christians, other Christian judges like Vikramjit Sen have never raised this question. Justice Dattu had already pointed out that this is not the first time a meeting has been called on Good Fridayand it has also been called on days when Hindus have a holiday given on religious festivals
In 2014, the government had faced a lot of flak from minority leaders when they turned Christmas into Good Governance Day.
Retired Supreme Court Judge KT Thomas, however, had a different take. He told India Legal: “Why cannot we work on Good Fri-day? In America, where 98 percent are Christians, Good Friday is a working day. Christians can attend church service and go to work. But in India we are obsessed with a holiday culture. I am totally opposed to this holiday mania that we suffer from.”
Some of the chief justices at the conference will present papers dealing with the financial autonomy of the judiciary and the computerization and strengthening of the Judicial Academy.