Restore Good Friday holiday: HC
Court rebuts argument of 2 Union Territories that impact of cancellation would be insignificant as Christian population was small
Story: The | Goan | 16th April 2019, 02:53 Hrs
>> The administration of UTs of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu had recently declared that 'Good Friday' in 2019 would cease to be a compulsory/gazetted holiday
>> Anthony Francisco Duarte from Moti Daman, Daman, filed a PIL in the High Court, challenging the notifications issued by the administration
>> The CBCI along with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and the Archdiocese of Goa and Domain supported the public interest petition
We are deeply grateful to all those who prayed for the success of this petition. We believe this is the Gift of God to the Christian Community during this Holy week
- Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas,
SFX, Secy Gen of CBCI
PANAJI: In a major legal victory for the Christian community which would have far-reaching consequences, a two Judge Bench of the Bombay High Court has directed the administration of the centrally administered Union Territories (UTs) of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli to restore Good Friday as a gazetted Holiday.
The administration of the UTs of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu by way of notifications had recently declared that 'Good Friday' in 2019 would cease to be a compulsory/gazetted holiday and would remain an optional/restricted holiday.
“We are deeply grateful to all those who prayed for the success of this petition. We believe this is the Gift of God to the Christian Community during this Holy week,” stated Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, SFX, Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), in a statement while announcing the verdict of the high court.
The CBCI along with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and the Archdiocese of Goa and Domain had actively supported a public interest petition filed by Anthony Francisco Duarte from Moti Daman, Daman, in the High Court, challenging the notifications issued by the administration.
Incidentally, both UTs of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli come under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Goa.
The Goa-based Nationalist Catholic Front (NCF) had also pledged its support to the CBCI, the archdiocese of Goa and Duarte, in the petition before the high court.
“The Christian community and the citizenry at large in these UTs were pained and anguished by the cancellation of a holiday on Good Friday which is held sacred by them. All public institutions including schools and colleges would have had to necessarily remain open on April 19,” said Bishop Mascarenhas.
When the matter camp up for hearing before Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Jamdar of the Bombay High Court on April 11, Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog was quick to question the counsel for respondents as to how the decision was taken.
“His only answer was that since the Christian population was small, the impact would not be as much. The chief justice was not satisfied and Haresh Jagtiani, senior advocate appearing for the petitioner, was quick to rebut that such ground was against the secular principles of the country,” said Bishop Mascarenhas.
The high court then directed the respondents to file a reply and the matter was relisted on Monday.
When the matter was taken up again on April 15 for hearing, the state counsel reportedly expressed their inability to implement Good Friday as a public holiday within a short span of time.
“The Court noting the importance of Christian festivals for all and sundry in the country, thought it just and expedient, in spite of the short duration of time to April 19, deemed it fit to direct the Administrator to declare Good Friday as a gazetted holiday,” Bishop Mascarenhas added.
In his note of acknowledgement, Bishop Mascarenhas said: “We are grateful to Anthony Francisco Duane from Moti Daman, Daman, for his courage in coming forward when most people were fearing to venture into the battle.”
“We thank senior advocate Haresh Jagtiani, the ADF and the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman for the support provided to the petition. We also appreciate gratefully the dedicated efforts of Fr Tony Lopes SFX working in the Mission of Daman.”
“We also wish to thank Dr Abraham Mathai and Gul Kriplani for their kind assistance, especially for securing the services of Senior Advocate Haresh Jagtiani for the matter. Advocate Jagtiani offered Pro Bono services to the cause, meaning, he did not charge any legal fees for the case. May God bless these large hearted persons.”