Nobody has a fundamental right to a public holiday: Bombay High Court

Public holidays are a matter of public policy and cannot be availed as a matter of violation of fundamental rights as the Bombay High Court rightfully observed that in the writ petition impugning the notification issued in October 2021 that did not declare 02.08.2022 as a public holiday and directing the respondent to issue a notification every year to declare 2nd August of every year as a public holiday celebrating the liberation of Dadra and Nagar Haveli by the division bench of Justice Gautam Patel and Justice Madhav Jamdar in the case of KISHNABHAI NATHUBHAI GHUTIA & Anr V. THE HON’BLE ADMINISTRATOR UNION TERRITORY & Ors [WRIT PETITION NO. 9602 OF 2021]

In the present case the petitioner sought relief to get August 2 of every year to be declared as a public holiday because it marks the liberation of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and it was permitted as a public holiday from 1954 to 2020. Comparisons were drawn by the petitioner between Independence Day i.e., 15th August and how it is similar to the independence of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. References were also made to the 2019 order of Bombay High Court Division Bench that declared Good Friday as a gazetted holiday that was also applicable to Union Territory of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli to which the court stated that considering both the cases stand on different footings, they cannot declare 2nd August as a Public Holiday.

The Bombay High Court here observed that in this case there is no legally enforceable right that can be said to be infringed as Public Holiday is nobody’s Fundamental right and during these times, we should rather focus on reducing the number of public holidays and not increasing them and rejected the petition seeing no substance. Public holidays are a matter of government policy and we should not think of claiming them as a matter of right, it should be totally left to the government whether to declare a particular day as a public holiday or not except for 3 days that are Independence Day that is on 15th August, Republic Day on 26th January and Gandhi Jayanti that is on 2nd October because these 3 days have statutory backing as they are gazetted holidays. If we start to recognize every occasion as a holiday then there will be far too many holidays. India is a very diverse country with a vast population and a very large territory, while it is important to value everyone’s sentiments, it is not feasible to give out a public holiday for every occasion. Moreover, these petitions requesting a direction to get a certain day declared as a public holiday has no legal backing under any act. There are many ways of celebrating a special occasion and it is not necessary that you have to take an off on that particular day and neither does not declaring the day as a leave deprives anyone of the right to celebrate the special occasion as no right is absolute in nature.

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Judgment reviewed by Meenakshi Jena

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