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New team to handle top-secret files

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Centre picking officials ‘very carefully and selectively’ as indiscipline in the ranks is on the rise.

Faced with a growing number of leaks and indiscipline in the Home Ministry, the Union government is drawing up a list of people who will handle “top secret” work and the personnel would be chosen irrespective of their ranks, a top government official told The Hindu.

An official said the decision comes after a file pertaining to a high-profile case went missing last month. The file was traced and disciplinary proceedings were initiated against the official who had “walked away” with the file.

There was a 16 per cent jump in the number of cases of indiscipline and departmental proceedings initiated against officials of the Ministry in 2015.

“It was an eye-opener for us, and there needs to be a system in place under which only select people have access to top secret files and documents, especially those relating to national security,” the official said.

In March, a circular issued by the Home Ministry said: “It is proposed to draw up a list of employees of the MHA, irrespective of rank, who are holding posts that are required to handle top secret work or work of extra sensitive nature and refer their cases to the Intelligence Bureau for positive vetting.”

“The persons handling classified papers and information, which are of top secret or of extra-sensitive nature, have to be identified very carefully and selectively,” it adds.

Data available with the Ministry show 5,672 cases of vigilance and disciplinary actions were opened from April to December 2015, as against 4,897 in 2014.

“There has been a jump in these figures as the government has zero tolerance for officials indulging in unscrupulous activity. As many as 261 non-gazetted and three gazetted officers were dismissed last year, while 101 officials were made to retire compulsorily,” said the official.

The new guidelines mean that the officials handling secret files will have to undergo an extra layer of background check. “Since background check is conducted on all government officials before they are given appointment letters, there will be an additional round of security check for these officials,” said the official.

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Printable version | May 20, 2019 8:05:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/new-team-to-handle-topsecret-files/article8477123.ece

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