"How long does it take to vote and can't people cast their votes on a holy day?" the Supreme Court asked on Thursday while refusing to accord urgent hearing to a plea which claimed that holding Lok Sabha polls on April 18 in Tamil Nadu will cause "inconvenience" to Christians and sought its rescheduling.
A bench headed by Justice S A Bobde made the observation when the lawyer representing a Christian body sought urgent hearing on their petition challenging the March 22 Madras High Court order which had dismissed their plea in this regard.
The petition, filed by a managing trustee of 'Christuva Nallenna Iyakkam', said that the scheduled date of polling for the Lok Sabha election in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry falls within the holy period, which begins with 'Maundy Thursday' and is followed by Good Friday and Holy Easter.
"You can't cast your vote on a holy day?" the bench, also comprising justices S A Nazeer and Indira Banerjee, asked the counsel who sought an urgent hearing on the plea.
"How long does it take to vote?" the bench said, adding, "We don't want to advise you on how to pray and how to cast vote".
The bench said there was no urgency in hearing the matter.
The petitioner has said in the plea that, "The General Elections to Lok Sabha 2019 has been notified on March 19 by the Election Commission of India and thereby the date of poll for Tamil Nadu and Puducherry was scheduled on April 18 falls on Maundy Thursday, within the 'Holy Triduum' which means the three days that begins with the liturgy on Maundy Thursday, followed by Good Friday and ends with prayer on Holy Easter Sunday."
It said that having the polling date on April 18 would "cause inconvenience and displeasure" to the entire Christian community as they cannot go to the Churches freely to perform mandatory religious practices and they would also not able to freely discharge their fundamental duty by casting their vote.
The plea said that rescheduling the date of elections from April 18 in Tamil Nadu to any other subsequent date would enable the citizens at large to participate in the electoral process.
It said that the petition should not be construed as a challenge to electoral process scheduled by the poll panel.
"In fact, the petitioner herein is praying for accommodation by enabling the whole Christian community to fulfil their duty by casting their vote and also at the same time enabling the Christians to fulfil their mandatory religious practices on 'Maundy Thursday' without there being any hindrance to their freedom of right to do religious practice and their duty to cast vote in the democracy," it said.