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Babus To Participate On Facebook, Twitter; Centre To Amend Rule

But criticism of government will still be a no-no.

19/07/2016 6:10 PM IST | Updated 19/07/2016 9:34 PM IST
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BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 17: In this photo illustration the app of Twitter is displayed on a smartphone on June 17, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo Illustration by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)

Bureaucrats may soon be allowed to participate freely on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin but criticism of government will still be a no-no.

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has issued draft rules which bar officers from making "criticism of government" on television, social media or any other communication application by any means including a "caricature".

The proposed rules allow civil servants to accept simple and inexpensive entertainment events arranged by public bodies or institutions. However, they will have to declare before the government details of household equipments, automobiles or any other means of conveyance if their value exceed two months basic pay.

These rules are part of the proposed changes in All India Service (Conduct) Rules, 1968, which are applicable to three all India services--Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service (IFoS).

"Previous sanction of the government shall not be required when the member of the service, in the bonafide discharge of his duties or otherwise, publishes a book or article or contributes to or participates in any public media including social media websites," said the new rules. In existing rules, there is no mention of social media.

The DoPT has proposed to expand the ambit of the rules that check criticism of government.

The member of service shall also not criticise the government--its policy or action, capable of embarrassing the Centre's relations with state and foreign countries governments--on television, social media or any other communication application.

No member of the service shall, in any radio broadcast or communication over any public media or in any document (which may include a caricature) published anonymously, pseudonymously or in any communication to the press or in any public utterance, make any statement of fact or opinion which has the effect of an adverse criticism of any policy of the central or state governments, as per the proposed rules.

The new norms allow IAS, IPS and IFoS officers to accept simple and inexpensive entertainment events arranged by public bodies or institutions. The proposed change in rules make it mandatory for the officers to submit annual returns to mandatorily include among others household equipments, automobiles or any other means of conveyance if their value exceed the concerned officer's two months basic pay. In their annual return to the government, the civil servants have to give details of jewellery, insurance policies the annual premia of which exceeds two months basic pay of the member of service, besides shares, securities and debentures. As per existing norms, they also have to mention loans advanced by or to such member of the service, motor cars, motor cycles, horses and refrigerators, radiograms and television sets. Any violation of the conduct rules attracts necessary disciplinary action. All chief secretaries of state governments and cadre controlling authorities-- Home Ministry for IPS officers and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for IFoS officers-- have been asked to send their comments on the proposed changes in the conduct rules by August 12.

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