Civil Service Rules Amendment : Restriction on Free Speech

Utility: A standalone question can be asked on Civil Service Rules.
Context: Center has amended pension rules for Civil services.
Amendment in pension rules and its consequences:
  • The Centre has amended pension rules for civil servants working in organizations mentioned in the Second Schedule of the RTI Act.
  • It restricts former officials of security and intelligence organizations under the 2nd Schedule of the RTI Act from writing anything without prior clearance. Such information includes:
    • The domain of the organization, including reference or information about any personnel and his designation.
    • Information relating to their expertise or knowledge gained by virtue of working in that organization.
    • Sensitive information that might endanger India’s sovereignty and integrity, security, geopolitical, scientific, or economic interests, or its relationship with a foreign state.
  • The Second Schedule of the RTI Act includes 26 organizations:
    • IB, Research and Analysis Wing, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, Directorate of Enforcement, NCB, Aviation Research Centre, Special Frontier Force, BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF, NSG, Assam Rifles, SSB, CID, Andaman and Nicobar.
Consequences of the amendment:
  • The amendment means that pension can be withheld or withdrawn if the pensioner disobeys the said rules.
Why center has amended the rule?
There are some incidents where some high profile retired police and intelligence agency officials have sensitive revealed information in books. Or they regularly write columns in newspapers and magazines.
As a result, the Centre has amended the pension rule to prohibit retired officials from publishing information without prior clearance.
  • The rules are ambiguous. For example, “expertise or knowledge gained” is prone to conflicting interpretations among individuals.
  • Pension is not a reward but a binding obligation. The government cannot withhold the pension as the rule itself mention pension as a “claimed as a right”.
  • The Courts also historically ruled in favour of the pensioner. For instance, In Dr Hira Lal v. State of Bihar case, the court mentioned “that the right to pension cannot be taken away by a mere executive fiat or administrative instruction. An employee earns these benefits by virtue of his long, continuous, faithful and unblemished service”.
  • The government cannot force a code of conduct for such large numbers of retired officials to speak out against its policies. Such as secretaries, ambassadors, the Directors-General of police and others.
Other restrictions on government employees under CCS Conduct Rules while in service?
  • Rule 7: It restricts them from resorting to or abetting any form of strike or coercion.
  • Rule 8:
    • It restricts them from owning or participating in the editing or management of any newspaper or media.
    • If they write or speak in public media, they shall at all times make it clear that the opinions expressed are their own and not that of the Government.
  • Rule 9: Restricts them from making statements of fact or opinion in writing or in a telecast or a broadcast that criticize any current or recent policy or action of the Central Government or a State Government.
  • The Conduct Rules bars government servants from being associated with any political party and from taking part or assisting any political activity.
  • Every government employee shall at all times maintain political neutrality.
  • Every government employee commits himself to and upholds the supremacy of the Constitution and democratic values.

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