Expressing his strong reservations over the All India Chief Justices Conference being held on Good Friday, sitting Supreme Court judge Justice Kurien Joseph had shot off a letter to the Prime Minister three days before the event was to start.
Justice Joseph wrote the letter in response to a invite by the PM for a dinner fixed for Saturday after he failed to persuade CJI, HL Dattu, that the conference should not have been held on Good Friday, a day considered holy for the Christian community.
“I know 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 also while scheduling events and benevolently show equal importance and respect to the sacred days of all religions which are also declared as national holidays,” the letter stated.
PM Narendra Modi will address a joint session on the third and final day of the conference.
Dattu had on March 18 rejected the judge’s request insisting it was not the first time the conference was held on a public holiday. He cited numerous precedents in support of his decision and said it was to avoid disruption of normal working days. He also said institutional interests were paramount.
Fast-tracking of cases related to offences against women, children, differently-abled persons and senior citizens were among the issues discussed on the first day of the Chief Justices conference that commenced on Friday.
Chaired by CJI, the closed door meeting also focused on augmenting post-retirement benefits to judges of high courts and held a discussion on giving financial independence to the judiciary. The three-day conference would end on Sunday with PM Narendra Modi addressing a joint conference of chief ministers and chief justice of the high courts.