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Rajya Sabha official demoted for anti-Modi posts on social media

Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu.

Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Deputy Director has “failed to maintain political neutrality”, says order

On the directive of Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu, an official working in the post of Deputy Director in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat has been demoted for his social media posts allegedly against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP Cabinet Ministers and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adtiyanath. 

A memo issued by the Secretariat dated February 12 to Deputy Director (Security) Urujul Hasan charges him with “sharing several offensive, derogatory, demeaning and sarcastic posts on social media against the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India and some Union Ministers and Chief Ministers as also sharing a number of posts indicating his active involvement/assistance/indulgence in political activities canvassing in connection with an election to the legislature”. 

According to sources, the order was issued following a year-long enquiry after an anonymous complaint flagged Mr. Hasan’s Facebook posts made from April to May 2018. Many of these posts, sources said, were merely repost of others’ statements. 

The Hindu tried contacting Mr. Hasan but he was not available for comment. As per the Rajya Sabha orders, Mr. Hasan has been demoted for five years and even at the end of this period he will not be allowed to resume his post of Deputy Director. 

The order rules that Mr. Hasan has “failed to maintain political neutrality” as per the Central Civil Services Conduct Rules of 1964 which has stringent provisions against participation of a government servant in any kind of political activity or even freely expressing their view.

Various sections of these rules have been invoked against Mr. Hasan. As per the rules, a government servant is debarred from joining any political party, he/she is not allowed to “canvass or otherwise interfere with, or use his influence in connection with or take part in an election to any legislature or local authority”. The government servant is not allowed to even indicate the manner in which he proposes to vote or has voted. 

The enquiry committee had also taken into account a Madras High Court ruling of May 10, 2018 against an actor-turned-politician for forwarding an offensive WhatsApp message, saying, “Forwarding a message is equal to accepting the message and endorsing the message.” 

Former Chief Secretary of Delhi Rakesh Mehta said a civil servant is not allowed to breach the political line under any circumstances and the rules are very clear about it. “The CCS Rules apply for social media posts too. A social media post cannot be considered a private correspondence. A civil servant cannot make his political views public simply because it would prejudge their decision making process,” Mr. Mehta said. However, he agreed that the rules are archaic and need to be revisited in an era of social media. 

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 3:35:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rajya-sabha-official-demoted-for-anti-pm-social-media-posts/article30811861.ece

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