New Delhi: Supreme Court judge Kurian Joseph, who had earlier raised objections with the CJI over holding a three-day conference of judges over this weekend, on Saturday skipped the dinner hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for top judges because the event clashed with the Good Friday and Easter weekend.
In his letter to the PM Joseph said, “Good Friday is a day of great religious significance to us, marking the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Thus, it is customary for us to be part of the religious and other ceremonies with parents, elders and other family members during the holy weekend. Hence I would be in Kerala during those days,” Mr Joseph wrote in the letter.
Speaking on this issue in Kochi on Saturday, the judge said he only wanted to raise a serious concern — the future of secularism in India.
“Nothing personal between me or anybody (on this issue). But, I am sad that it has been projected wrongly by a section of media, missing the core issue,” he said.
In the letter, he also told the Prime Minister that irrespective of the religion, Diwali, Holi, Dussehra, Eid, Bakrid, Christmas and Easter are great days of festival celebrations in the neighbourhood.
“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,” he said.
He then referred to historical instances and said that Jews and Zoroastrians, who came to India after being persecuted abroad, got “respect and bonhomie” from the then Hindu rulers. “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. I have shared these concerns with the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India as well,” he said.
The Chief Justice of India refused to comment on the controversy and Justice Joseph’s letter to Mr Modi.
While the SC judge was in news for not attending the dinner, Bihar Chief Minister’s presence in the meet triggered speculations.
However, Nitish Kumar tried to play it down saying it was “part of an old tradition.”
“It’s an old tradition that the Prime Minister hosts a dinner for dignitaries on such an occasion (the Conference of Judges of High Courts),”Mr Kumar said.
“I have attended such a customary function earlier too,” Mr Kumar said.
The news of Mr Kumar attending Mr Modi’s dinner is being debated since he had withdrawn an invitation for dinner he had hosted for BJP leaders in June 2010 in reaction to a photograph published in newspapers showing Modi holding his hand.
The cancellation of the dinner for BJP leaders at that time is still discussed in political circles here....