THE Bihar government has fixed a time limit of two hours in the afternoon for Muslim employees and officials to offer their Friday prayers. The order,which the state claims is first of its kind in India,came just ahead of Ramzan and is meant to cut absenteeism post-lunch on Fridays.
The circular issued by the General Administration Department (GAD) last week fixed the slot as 12.30 to 2.30 pm,including the time for lunch. Starting July 20,all department heads have been told to treat those staying out of office beyond 2.30 pm after prayer on Fridays as absent. The department falls under Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
While Andhra Pradesh,Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh also allow Friday prayers during office hours,there is no fixed duration for the same.
GAD joint secretary Navin Chandra Jha,who issued the circular,said: As we had been following a 1934 circular,we needed to take a fresh look,more so to curtail absenteeism. It was the CMs call after discussing the matter with Minority Affairs Minister Shahid Ali Khan and Home Secretary Amir Subhani.
Jha clarified that it was only coincidence that the order came just ahead of the beginning of Ramzan,and said they expected it to go down well with government employees in an age of professionalism.
Though Muslims have been availing special permission to offer Friday prayers since the British regime,we have received public complaints regarding fixing time limit for Friday prayers, said the circular.