Public holiday is not a right: SC

Published On: April 20, 2018 06:47 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, April 20: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday said that public holiday is not a right of any individual but a matter of executive discretion.

Issuing the full text of the judgment in relation to a writ petition decided a few months ago, the apex court said that the matter of public holiday is a discretionary wisdom of the executive.

A division bench of justices Ishwor Prasad Khatiwada and Sapana Pradhan Malla also said that no one can claim public holiday citing any religion or culture.

“Granting public holiday is a matter of discretionary wisdom of the executive. A public holiday should not be demanded on religious ands cultural grounds,” the text of judgment further states: “The religious context may also be one of various other grounds for giving public holiday but this should not be the sole condition.”

Stating that various aspects such as social, economic, cultural, religious, political etc should be taken as the grounds for deciding public holidays, the bench asked the government authorities - the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Minister, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Law and Justice and the Ministry of Culture - to take into consideration the public participation and the effect on public service while deciding the matter.

Claiming that the erstwhile Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government had granted public holidays on various religious occasions of the Hindu religion but did not grant a public holiday on Christmas, a group of lawyers representing Advocates for the Nation had filed the PIL. They claimed that the government’s treatment discriminated against the Christian religion. Later on, the then government had announced holiday on Christmas day following the pronouncement of the verdict.

 The bench had declined to issue a mandamus in the name of the government to grant holiday for Christmas Day stating that the religious and cultural importance could not be the sole ground to announce holiday.

Stating that Nepal is a country with religious and cultural diversity, the bench ruled out the possibility of announcing public holidays on the basis of every religion, culture or community. The bench also issued a directive order to the government authorities to review the public holiday keeping  such things in mind. It also asked the government authorities to review holidays such as national holiday, province level or local level holiday keeping in mind the federal structure of the country.

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