The Jammu and Kashmir administration has warned its employees of strict disciplinary action, including termination from service, for posting any material on social media that is critical to any policy pursued or action taken by the government.
A circular issued on Friday by Commissioner Secretary, General Administration Department, Sanjeev Verma said fresh provisions have been incorporated in the Jammu and Kashmir Employees Conduct Rules, 1971, barring employees from commenting on political or government policies on social media.
As per the new guidelines, no employee shall, through any post, tweet or otherwise, discuss or criticise on social media, any policy pursued or action taken by the government, nor shall he or she, in any manner, participate in any such discussion or criticism on social media communities or micro-blogs.
“No employee shall post, tweet or share content that is political or anti-secular and communal in nature or subscribe to pages, communities or Twitter handles and blogs of such nature,” said the guidelines on the use of social media by government employees in the Union Territory.
It has been observed that government servants often engage themselves with social media in a manner which is in contravention to these rules, the circular said.
“While using different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or instant messaging applications like WhatsApp, Telegram employees have been seen to air disparaging views on subjects that they are expressly barred under rules to comment upon. Employees have been seen to comment or act or behave in a manner that does not conform to the acceptable standards of official conduct,” it said.
The order said as per the Jammu and Kashmir government employees (conduct) rules, 1971, "These rules are applicable to all the government employees of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and give details on the conduct that is expected of the employees in their personal as well as professional life. The rules list out the activities that are not to be carried out by the employees and violation of the conduct rules can be punished under rule 30 of the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1956".
The circular said penalties may, for good and sufficient reason and as hereinafter provided, be imposed upon members of service including censure, imposing fine not exceeding one month’s pay, withholding of increments and or promotion and reduction to a lower post and or a lower time-scale and or to a lower stage in time-scale besides recovery from pay of the whole or part of any pecuniary loss caused to the government by negligence or breach of orders.
It says the government can prematurely retire on proportionate pension, remove from the service of the state which does not disqualify from future employment and dismissal from the service of the state which ordinarily disqualifies from future employment, the erring employees.
The Lt Governor administration directed all administrative secretaries, deputy commissioners, heads of departments, managing directors to immediately proceed against the employees working in their departments or offices who are found to have violated the guidelines.
Over the past two-three years, the J-K administration has terminated the services of a number of employees on the pretext of having links with terrorists, being relatives of separatist leaders and not furnishing accurate details at the time of applying for jobs, among others.
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