A public sector bank was forced to withdraw a dress code circular for its employees for the Navratri celebrations after a strong protest from the bank employees' union and censure on social media.
The circular, titled "Navratri Celebration and Dress Code", was issued by AR Raghavendra, general manager, Digitization Department of the Union Bank Of India's central office in Mumbai.
Imposing a dress-code for all its workers for Navratri to be followed between October 7-15, the circular also imposed a fine of Rs 200 if rules were not followed.
Issued on October 1, it also mandated a daily group photograph of all employees. The colours ranged from yellow, green, orange, white, royal blue, pink, purple, grey, red for the nine days of festivities, the bank said in its list of instructions. In check shirts, base colour will be considered, it further said.
The employees' federation contended that issuing an "official instruction for celebrating a religious festival in office, fixing dress code and imposition of penalty is not a routine official matter of digitization department".
The federation impressed upon the bank that the order runs counter to the spirit of secularism.
"Navratri is a religious festival and that should be observed and celebrated privately and not officially in a public sector bank that maintains a high esteem towards a secular fabric of our society. Celebration of any festival is a voluntary phenomenon that has no room for any instruction/coercion far to speak of imposition of any penalty," the All India Union Bank Employees Federation said in a letter to the Union Bank of India.
It further said that this has "never happened in the 100 years' history of the bank".