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Court grants Easter holiday for Christian workers

Tax office employees get weekend off

Ritu Sharma, New Delhi

March 27, 2013

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Christians working for the federal government will get Good Friday and Easter off, the High Court said on Tuesday after a petition from the All India Christian Council. 

The government had previously issued a notification for income tax offices to stay open over the Easter weekend, as March 31 is the deadline for filing of the tax returns for the past financial year.

The offices will remain open as planned but Christian staff are exempted from reporting for work.

The court decision "allows the Christian community to carry on their religious obligations as Good Friday is a very important faith day,” said John Dayal, secretary general of the All India Christian Council.

His lawyer said the notification was an infringement of fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution, as also in United Nations declarations which had been signed by India. 

He said the order infringed on the rights of the people to worship freely.

The counsel added that the matter was of a very urgent nature as Good Friday is in two days.

Justice Pradeep Nandrajog, who gave an interim order on the issue, fixed April 2 as the next date for hearing.

While delivering the order, Nandrajog said that there should be a balance of matters of faith and the government’s desire to maximize its revenue before the end of the financial year. He also noted that the Christian community was a mere 2.3 percent of the population.

As the High Court is on a brief vacation, Justice Nandrajog heard the matter in his chambers.

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