Legal fraternity backs Justice’s Joseph call for religious sensitivity

New Delhi : A number of senior Supreme Court lawyers have come in support of Justice Kurian Joseph who protested against holding of a conference of top judges on Good Friday saying it was “insensitive”, and wrong to make it a case of individual versus institutional interest.

“There was no individual interest (in what Justice Joseph said). It was a sacred day for the Christians. One has to be sensitive to their feelings and point of view and can’t be insensitive and belligerent about them,” said senior counsel Rupinder Singh Sodhi.

Support TwoCircles

Justice Joseph had written to Chief Justice H.L.Dattu protesting against the holding of High Court Chief Justices conference on Good Friday, but Chief Justice Dattu had replied that institutional interests were more important than the individual interests.

Not only did Justice Joseph stay away from the conference but also did not attend the dinner hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the participants as he had gone to Kerala for the religious event.

Sodhi, a former Delhi High Court judge, said: “It (holding the conference on Good Friday) was in bad taste. What I am most concerned is that none of the brother judges of Supreme Court stood by him. I am sorry that none stood by him. Had I been one of them, I would have protested though I don’t belong to the same faith”

If saving a working day was an issue, then “this conference could have been held during the summer vacation when courts are closed,” he said.

Agreeing with Justice Joseph, activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan said: “I agree with Justice Kurian Joseph. These sensitivities have to be born in mind before scheduling such conferences.”

To Chief Justice H.L.Dattu’s response: “It is not a question of individual interest. It is a question of being sensitive to sentiments of the people belonging to different religion. Good Friday is no different from any other national holidays.”

Another former judge of Delhi High Court and now senior counsel Jaspal Singh said: ” I personally feel that it is a very important religious day and the sentiments of the Christian community should be taken note of, more so when such conferences can take place on any other day also.”

“It is not personal. It is very much a national holiday. Also Christians are part of Indian society. They are as important as any other community. I do feel that there was nothing personal in it and the reaction of Chief Justice Dattu in that regard was totally uncalled for,” he said.