Officers, think before you draw and post!!!

Caricatures, tweets or Facebook posts critical of government may soon land bureaucrats in trouble with administration planning to amend civil servants’ conduct rules.

The civil servants will also have to be extra cautious in filing their assets declarations as there could be a change in rules that expands the ambit of movable assets to include all household equipment and vehicles with a value exceeding two months of basic pay.

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has circulated a draft to amend the All India Service (Conduct) Rules 1968 to sychronise it with the changing times.

Though the officers are allowed to participate in “any public media, including social media websites”, the draft says, they could not “make any such statement on television, social media or any other communication application”, including “caricature”.

The officers were earlier allowed only to publish books or articles in “bonafide discharge of duties” without prior permission. However, the draft allows publish books or articles even “otherwise”.

Social media was not mentioned in the existing rules and the addition comes against the backdrop of recent incidents of civil servants taking to social media to level allegations against their superiors and government.

A Madhya Pradesh-cadre was in trouble for endorsing a post that criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and eulogised Jawaharlal Nehru while a police officer in Kerala faced the ire for an inappropriate remark on a leading Malayalam actress on social media. The social media post of a Kashmir IAS officer Shah Faesal on the recent violence in his homestate also attracted a lot of attention.

Another change is in the norms that allow IAS, IPS and IFoS officers to accept simple and inexpensive entertainment events arranged by public bodies or institutions.

Earlier, cars, motorcycles, horses or any other means of conveyance had to be declared while it has now been redrafted as automobiles or any other means of conveyance of value exceeding two months basic pay.

While only refrigerators, radiograms and television sets were to be declared, now all household equipment of value exceeding two months of basic pay have to be declared in their annual returns to the government.

July 19, 2016

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