Bombay High Court to Hear a PIL Challenging Public Holiday in Maharashtra on Ram temple Consecration Day
NEW DELHI, Jan 20: A special bench of the Bombay high court has been constituted to hear a public interest litigation on Sunday filed by four law students challenging the Maharashtra government’s declaration of a public holiday on January 22 – the consecration day of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Shivangi Agarwal, Satyajeet Siddharth Salve, Vedant Gaurav Agarwal and Khushi Sandeep Bangia — the students from MNLU, Mumbai, GLC and NIRMA law school, have filed the PIL claiming that a public holiday cannot be declared at the whims of the political party in power.
A special bench of Justices GS Kulkarni and Neela Gokhale has been constituted to hear the matter at 10.30 AM on Sunday. The Maharashtra government issued an order on Friday declaring a public holiday in the state on January 22 in view of the “Pran Pratishtha” of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
The petitioners said declaring a public holiday to celebrate a religious event violated the principles of secularism enshrined in the Constitution. The law students argued that a state cannot associate with or promote any religion. “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 petition said.
“Any policy regarding declaration of public holidays cannot be at the whims and fancies of the political party in power. Holiday can be declared perhaps to commemorate a patriotic personally or historic figure but not to celebrate consecration of Ram Lalla to appease a particular section of the society or religious community,” it said.
Maharashtra is one of the states that have declared a public holiday on the occasion of the Ram Temple consecration. Several other states have declared half-holiday, closure of schools. Goa, Madhya Pradesh government have announced a public holiday on the occasion. Central government offices will also have a half working day on January 22. Public sector banks too will remain closed till 2.30pm on January 22. Stock exchange NSE and BSE were open on Saturday as they will remain closed on January 22.