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Kurian says secularism is being tinkered with

Supreme Court Judge Kurian Joseph and Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu.

Supreme Court Judge Kurian Joseph and Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu.  

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Judiciary cannot even remotely give any wrong message: SC judge

Supreme Court judge, Justice Kurian Joseph, said his written objection to the Chief Justice of India holding the Chief Justices Conference on Good Friday and Easter is an expression of his anguish about the way “secularism is being tinkered with”.

“This is my pain, anguish and concern about the way secularism is being tinkered with. Secularism practiced in India is unique in the world. A constitutional institution like judiciary, expected to protect secular ethos cannot even remotely give any message otherwise,” Justice Joseph told The Hindu over the phone on Saturday while attending Easter religious services in Kerala.

Former Chief Justice of India V.N. Khare told the paper that Justice Joseph’s position reflected the apprehensions of religious minorities.

“The whole incident is very unfortunate. I see it in a broader perspective... and the broader perspective is that his (Justice Joseph’s) letters reflect the fears felt by the religious minorities now,” Justice Khare said.

Justice Joseph had also, in another letter, declined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to attend a dinner tonight for the judges attending the conference.

In his letter declining the invitation, Justice Joseph wrote to the Prime Minister to “benevolently show equal importance and respect to the sacred days of all religions which are also declared as National holidays” while scheduling events.

“Our religious and cultural festivals and hues, irrespective of caste and creed, have contributed to the vibrancy of our rich pluralistic culture and ethos. The whole world jealously looks at the beauty of the secular image, communal harmony and cultural integrity of our great Nation. India must in these trying times, safeguard her credentials and be a model that other nations must follow,” Justice Joseph wrote to the Prime Minister.

“I wrote to the Prime Minister as a guardian of the Constitution. I stand for a cause. I stand for the truth,” Justice Joseph said over the phone.

Chief Justice H.L. Dattu refused to comment on Justice Joseph’s letter as he left a reception organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association to the Chief Justices at the end of the two-day Chief Justices Conference early this evening.

“I don’t want to comment on it,” Chief Justice Dattu told the media.

The CJI had earlier explained to Justice Joseph that institutional interests came over and above individual interests. He confirmed that he would attend the Prime Minister’s dinner.

“Of course I will attend," Chief Justice Dattu told reporters.

The CJI further denied a news report that Justice Vikramjit Sen, another Supreme Court judge, had also objected to the holding of the conference on Good Friday and Easter. “There was no objection, no statement, no confrontation,” Chief Justice Dattu said.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 9:56:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/my-expression-of-anguish-at-tinkering-with-secularism-says-sc-judge-kurian-joseph/article7068833.ece

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