KATHMANDU, Nov 17: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the government to review all public holidays keeping the interest of service seekers in mind.
A division bench of justices Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada and Sapana Pradhan Malla issued the directive to the government authorities--the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Home Affairs--to review public holidays.
“There is a need to give consideration to the right to equality, right to religion, right to culture and the principle of secularism in line with the Constitution of Nepal while reviewing public holidays,” the bench ruled.
“We will issue a clear order in the full text of the judgment in future,” the bench said. The bench, however, has scrapped the writ petition that sought a mandamus order to the government to announce public holiday for Christmas on December 25.
During Thursday's hearing, dozens of lawyers including Nepal Bar Association Chairman Sher Bahadur KC, senior advocate Krishna Prasad Bhandari, and Bijayakanta Mainali requested the apex court to instruct the government authorities to announce public holiday for December 25 as it is an internationally recognized religious festival. They argued that giving holiday only for the public employees of Christian faith is not sufficient because other religious holidays are public holidays for all.
They claimed that the government has neglected the religious rights of the Christian community when it has been giving public holidays for Dahsain, Tihar and other festivals of the Hindus; Id of the Muslims; and Udhauli Ubhauli of the Kirant community.
Earlier, the government formed after the April 2006 popular movement had declared public holiday for Christmas. But on April 14 this year the government had canceled the public holiday.
Earlier, while submitting written reply to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the government claimed that the government scrapped the public holiday using its discretionary powers and there was no ill-intention involved. The government had however said that public employees of the Christian faith are entitled to holiday on Christmas.