In an apparent bid to prevent the leak of official information and documents, the government has banned all government employees from using social media platforms.
According to the notification issued by the Establishment Division on August 25, no government servant can participate in any media platform including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Twitter except with the permission of the government. The reasoning behind the step is to “prevent the disclosure of government information and documents”.
The notification further says that instructions are not intended to discourage any constructive and positive use of social media by a government organization for engaging the people to solicit feedback on a government policy, suggestions for improvement in service delivery, and resolution of their complaints.
But on the other hand, such an organization shall maintain its social media platforms continuously or frequently to remove offensive, inappropriate and objectionable remarks.
Furthermore, the government employees are directed to abide by Government Servants Rules 1964 under which government employees are barred from expressing their opinions or making any statements.
Government employees have been warned of “strict action” for violating any of the instructions while using social media.
“Rule 18 of the Rules bars a government servant from sharing official information or document with a government servant or a private person or press,” the notification added.
According to Rule 22 of the Servant Rules, the Establishment Division says that it restrains a government servant from making any statement of fact or opinion which is capable of embarrassing the government in any document published or in any communication made to the press or in any public utterance or television programme or radio broadcast delivered by him or her.
Government employees banned from using social media
Moreover, the notification warned all government servants that defilement of one or more of these instructions would be equivalent to misconduct and lead to disciplinary action against the offending government servant under Civil Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 2020. Besides, it said, disciplinary proceedings would also be held against the serving government servants in case they were administrators of a social media group where any violation had been committed.
The Notification vocalized “They while using different social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, Microblogging etc, to air their views on a host of subjects and sometimes indulge in actions or behaviour that does not conform to the required standards of official conduct, as envisaged in the Rules”.
Consequently, these types of actions range from unauthorized relaying of the official information to disseminating the wrong or misleading information to the airing of political or sectarian views etc. The Establishment Division has further instructed government servants not to indulge in the unsanctioned revelation of official information.