New Delhi: A sitting judge of the Supreme Court expressed his dissent over a conference of chief justices being held on Good Friday, inviting a strong rebuttal from the Chief justice of india.
In a letter addressed to the CJI on March 18 , Justice Kurian Joseph questioned the timing of the conference. The judge said he would be away in Kerala, "committed on account of the holy days when we have religious ceremonies and family get together as well".
The judge also said such events were not held during Diwali, Dussehra, Holi or Eid.
The letter said, "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."
Justice Joseph further argued that by holding the conference on "holy and national holidays", the judiciary was sending a wrong message to other constitutional institutions and public bodies who "may feel compelled not to give equal importance and respect to all holy days."
"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 explained.
In a strong worded reply to Joseph, CJI HL Dattu said that institutional interest should be preferred over individual interest and stressed on the need of striking a balance between needs of the institution and family commitments.
The CJI expressed his shock saying that the decision to hold the conference after a gap of two years "has been questioned on the ground of inappropriate time, i.e. during 'holy and national holidays' and is being questioned by none other than my brother judge".
He said "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.
The CJI concluded by saying had he or other judges of the court been in place of Justice Joseph, "we would have valued institutional interest more than family commitments,