Four law students from several law colleges have approached the Bombay High Court challenging the decision of the Maharashtra government to declare a public holiday on January 22, the day of the inauguration of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, reports Bar & Bench.
The petitioners have applied to the High Court registrar today seeking constitution of a special bench to hear the petition on Sunday, January 21. The Registrar will respond to this request by today, Sunday, January 21.
Other reports suggest that an urgent hearing of a division bencg has been convened for 10.30 am, Sunday.
The petitioners, Shivangi Agarwal, Satyajeet Salve, Vedant Agrawal, Khushi Bangia, are students pursuing law courses in Maharashtra National Law University (MNLU), Government Law College(GLC), Mumbai and NIRMA Law University, Gujarat.
They have prayed for a quashing of the notification issued by the Maharashtra government on January 19.
“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 personality or historic figure but not to celebrate consecration of Ram lalla to appease a particular section of the society or religious community”, the petition said.
Further the plea states that the State government notification is nothing but expending from government exchequer for religious purpose which is prohibited under the Constitution.
The petitioners further emphasized that such public holidays would lead to loss of education, financial loss and loss of governance and public work, since schools, banks and government offices would be closed.
“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,” the petition underscored.
The petitioners have also challenged the notification of 1968 issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs that empowers States to exercise powers under the Negotiable Instruments Act to declare public holidays.