Ayodhya Ram temple consecration | Central government offices to be shut till 2.30 pm on January 22

The temple consecration ceremony will take place on January 22 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the chief guest at the event

January 18, 2024 03:54 pm | Updated 10:25 pm IST

Workers carrying the cutouts of Shri Ram to be installed all along the roads ahead of Ram Temple consecration ceremony, in Ayodhya on January 17, 2024.

Workers carrying the cutouts of Shri Ram to be installed all along the roads ahead of Ram Temple consecration ceremony, in Ayodhya on January 17, 2024. | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

In an unprecedented order, the Union government on Thursday announced a half day closure of all its offices on January 22 to “enable” Central government employees participate in the ‘Ram Lalla Pran Pratishtha’ celebrations.

All public sector banks, financial institutions, regional rural banks, and public insurers will be covered by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) order on half-day closure (till 2.30 p.m.) on January 22. The Finance Ministry has issued a communique to all public sector banks and heads of financial institutions.

The ceremony, to be held in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, will be led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will be attended by several guests invited by the Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust. 

A senior government official said that announcing full day leave for the religious purpose would have required a gazette notification.

“A half-day closure of office can be announced by the government through an office memorandum. If a holiday is announced for a declared purpose such as a festival or the birth anniversary of any famous leader, it has to be notified in the Gazette of India,” the official said.

Another official added that since there are three other notified holidays associated with Lord Ram — Ram Navami, Dussehra, and Diwali — a half day closure of offices was announced as a way out.

Officials also pointed out that the order specifically mentions the celebrations around the consecration ceremony, with no such memorandum issued in the recent past on religious grounds.

For example, each year in January, an office memorandum is issued for the closure of Central government offices around India Gate to facilitate rehearsals for the Republic Day parade, and Beating the Retreat parade subsequently. This circular is, however, restricted to only a section of Central government offices due to security reasons.

“People are already happy about the ceremony. A half-day leave will not achieve any purpose; officials may extend it to full day. Since January 22 is a Monday, they may avail leave to make it an extended weekend. This will lead to the loss of a day’s work,” Yashovardhan Azad, former Special Director, Intelligence Bureau, said.

The circular issued by the DoPT said: “The Ram Lalla Pran Pratishtha at Ayodhya will be celebrated on 22nd January, 2024 across India. To enable employees to participate in the celebrations, it has been decided that all Central Government Offices, Central Institutions and Central Industrial Establishments throughout India will be closed for half day till 1430 hours on 22nd January, 2024. All Ministries/Departments of Government of India may bring the above decision to the notice of all concerned.”

There are 12 ‘compulsory holidays’ for all Central government offices located in Delhi and in other parts of the country, including Republic Day, Independence Day, Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday, Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Zaha, Diwali, Dussehra, Guru Nanak’s birthday, and Good Friday.

There are also 14 other ‘restricted holidays’, including Holi, Rath Yatra, Janmashtami, Muharram, Mahashivaratri, Onam, and Pongal. 

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