Justice Kurian Joseph expresses concern over Judges Conference on Good Friday ; CJI Dattu strongly objects[Updated]
Justice Kurian Joseph, a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court of India has expressed his concern about the All India Judges Conference being organized on Good Friday
According to the Zee News Report Justice Kurian wrote a letter to Chief justice of India and all Chief Justices saying that holding a judges' conference on a national holiday like Good Friday could result in marring the nation's secular fabric. He was of the opinion that a constitutional authority such as the Supreme Court must respect the concept of why the national holiday was declared in the first place.
According to Times of India report he wrote to Chief Justice of India that he would be away in Kerala, "committed on account of the holy days when we have religious ceremonies and family get together as well".
"I may with deep anguish bring to your kind notice that such an important conference shouldn't have been held when some of us, who are otherwise expected to be part of the event, are otherwise committed on account of the holy days when we have religious ceremonies and family get- together as well"
"Please don't think that I am striking a communal note. Only since I see institution like ours, which are otherwise bound to protect the secular ethos and project secular image as per mandate of Constitution, are slowly drifting away from the constitutional obligations, I thought of putting this concern in writing," He wrote in the letter.
But Chief Justice of India, H.L. Dattu gave a green signal go ahead with the three day conference of High Court Judges, scheduled to begin on April 3, i.e. Good Friday, despite opposition. Institutional interest should be given preference to individual interest" CJI wrote in a reply to Justice Kurian.
He explained to Justice Kurian that the Conference is scheduled in Holidays because "the CJI and his two senior most colleagues and Chief Justices of HCs will be free from regular court work and be able to contribute to the cause of judiciary".
"The question that I have to ask myself, perhaps I can't ask you, is whether it is institutional interest or individual interest that one should give preference to. As far as I am concerned I would give priority to former and not to the latter."
"Assuming that religious ceremonies and family get together are more important than institutional interest, you (Justice Joseph) could have asked your family to join you in Delhi. By doing that you could have struck balance between the institutional interest and family commitments." Several other "participants are coming from distant places, leaving behind families", CJI wrote in his letter
Speaking to Live Law former Supreme Court Judge Justice K.T.Thomas said that there is nothing wrong in conducting the Conference on Good Friday. “There is only one Christian (HC) Chief Justice in India at present. I talked to him. He told me that there is no inconvenience for him to attend the Conference , because he can attend the church service either in the morning or in the evening”. Justice Thomas said. In USA, where the Christian population is 98%, Good Friday is not a holiday. He added
Speaking in a TV Debate Senior Advocate Harish Salve said “I must compliment the Chief Justice for sacrificing a long holiday by calling a conference on Good Friday. Religious body can't fix Supreme Court's schedules”
Earlier Advocate Lilly Thomas reportedly stated before Chief Justice Bench that, “Good Friday is a holy day of high spiritual significance and the State had recognized it as a national holiday. So the Chief Justices’ conference should not be held on this day.”
The CJI in turn stated, “In 2007, we had the judges’ conference on the day of ‘Good Friday’ and in 2009 it was held on the Independence Day, which is a national holiday. In 2004, it was held on Valmiki Day.”
“The purpose of holding this conference is that the work in high courts across the country is not affected as 24 Chief Justices would be attending this conference. Keeping this in mind, the judges took this decision,” the Bench added.
The Advocate was then urged to file a proper petition if she wished to continue pressing her grievance.