4 Law Students Move Bombay HC Against Maha Govt's Decision Declaring Public Holiday For Ram Temple Consecration On Jan 22

4 Law Students Move Bombay HC Against Maha Govt's Decision Declaring Public Holiday For Ram Temple Consecration On Jan 22

A special bench comprising Justices Girish Kulkarni and Neela Gokhale has been constituted which will hear the plea on Sunday, January 21 at 10.30 am.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Saturday, January 20, 2024, 06:50 PM IST
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Ram temple, Ayodhya | Ram temple trust

Four law students have approached the Bombay High Court challenging Maharashtra government’s decision to declare January 22 as a state holiday on the occasion of consecration of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. 

A special bench comprising Justices Girish Kulkarni and Neela Gokhale has been constituted which will hear the plea on Sunday, January 21 at 10.30 am. 

The Maharashtra government had issued a notification on January 19, declaring a state holiday on January 22. 

An application was moved on Saturday before the HC registry seeking an urgent hearing of the petition. 

Govt decision "gross abuse of power": Petition

The plea, filed by Shivangi Agarwal, Satyajeet Salve, Vedant Agarwal and Khushi Bangia, contends that the government’s decision to declare a public holiday, keeping the ensuing parliamentary elections in mind, was a “gross abuse of power for political purposes”.

They have also challenged the notification issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs on May 8, 1968, that empowered the states to exercise powers under the Negotiable Instruments Act to declare public holidays.

The students, who are pursuing law courses at Maharashtra National Law University (MNLU), Government Law College (GLC), Mumbai, and NIRMA Law University, Gujarat have sought quashing of the January 19 notification of the state government claiming that “any policy regarding declaration of public holidays cannot be at the whims and fancies of the political party in power.” 

Petition seeks stay on govt order declaring holiday

As an interim relief, they have sought a stay on the January 19 notification pending the hearing of their petition. 

Consecration of a temple is an essential religious practice associated with Hindu religion and therefore cannot be in any manner a concern of the Government. Any steps taken by the Government including declaration of public holiday for celebrating the consecration of a Hindu temple is nothing but an act of identifying with a particular religion, the plea contends.

“An act of the Government in celebrating and openly participating in the consecration of a Hindu temple thereby associating with a particular religion is nothing but a direct attack on the principles of secularism,” the PIL read. 

Educational, financial loss if holiday declared: Petition

The plea further says that a public holiday could be declared perhaps to commemorate a patriotic personality or historic figure but not to celebrate consecration of a temple to appease a particular section of the society or religious community. There are several temples across India and if the Government starts celebrating consecrations of various gods and goddesses in old or newly constructed temples, it would be necessary to declare a public holiday on each of such days.

“There are only 365 days in the year and they may not be enough to celebrate such consecrations,” the plea adds. 

Highlighting the negative effect of the public holiday, the plea states that it would lead to loss of education if the educational institutions are closed, financial loss if banking institutions are closed, and loss of governance and public works if government and public offices are closed, it added.

The plea adds: “In the absence of legislation conferring power to declare a public holiday on the State governments and without there being guidelines which are secular in nature, such declarations to appease a majority community that too for political purposes would be a sheer abuse of power and would destroy secular fabric of India.”

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