New Delhi: Miffed over scheduling of three-day long judges conference during the holy period for Christians, a sitting Supreme Court judge has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and declined a dinner invitation, scheduled to be held on Saturday.
In his letter dated April 1, Justice Kurian Joseph wrote: “Your good self would kindly appreciate that no important programmes are held during sacred and auspicious days of Diwali, Dussehra, Holi, Eid, Bakrid, etc, though we have holidays during that period as well.”
Underlining that the Indian model of secularism is based on the principle of sarva dharma sambhava, Justice Joseph cautioned that the country needs to safeguard its credentials.
Justice Joseph added that though it is “too late to reschedule the events. But being the guardian of Indian secularism, I request your honour to kindly have in mind these concerns while scheduling events and benevolently show equal importance and respect to the sacred days of all religions which are also declared as national holidays. I have shared these concerns with the honourable Chief Justice of India as well.”
The apex court judge has also written a letter to Chief Justice of India HL Dattu objecting to the holding of the conference of 24 high court chief justices from Good Friday to Eastern Sunday.
“I may with deep anguish bring to your kind notice that such an important conference should not have been held when some of us, otherwise expected to be part of the event, or otherwise committed on account of the holy days when we have religious ceremonies and family get-together as well,” he said in his letter to CJI HL Dattu.
Maintaining that he was not striking a communal note, Justice Joseph said such serious programmes were not held during Diwali, Dussehra, Holi, Eid, etc.
However, Justice Dattu hit back, saying the question the justice had to ask himself, as he cannot ask the judge, is “whether it is institutional interest or individual interest that one should preference to”.
Justice Dattu, in a letter to Justice Joseph, said assuming that religious ceremonies and family get-togethers were important, then he could ask his family to join him in Delhi.
“Several other participants are coming from distant places, leaving behind families,” the CJI said.
The CJI got support from a former apex court judge Justice KT Thomas asking why Christians cannot work on Good Friday.
“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 holiday culture. I am totally opposed to this holiday mania that we suffer from,” Justice Thomas said.
Chief Ministers of various states would join the judges on third day of the conference when Prime Minister Narendra Modi would address them and the legal luminaries.
Top judges from across the country led by Chief Justice of India HL Dattu on Friday began brainstorming to find solutions to critical problems like ensuring speedy trials to tackle over three crore pending cases and lack of infrastructure in courts.