Mixed reaction to suspension of government staff for Facebooking

Published: 05th July 2013 11:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th July 2013 11:13 AM   |  A+A-

The suspension of three government employees from service for posting and sharing comments against Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Facebook has become a hot topic among FB members.

Premanand Thekkekkara, a last grade employee of General Administration Department, Chandraprasad, legal assistant at Law Department, and R Suku, KSEB Deputy Chief Engineer, were placed under suspension for posting and sharing comments against Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in connection with the solar scandal.

While the first two faced the music for sharing a post, action was taken against Suku for making comments under a picture of Chandy with Tenny Joppan and Salim Raj, the CM’s gunman, in connection with the solar scam.

The comment was “thieves with cap and thieves without cap (thoppiyitta kallanmarum, thoppiyidatha kallanmaarum)’’. While some feel that suspending the employees was rather a tough step and it amounted to invasion of freedom of expression and democratic rights, others point out that criticisms should be polite.

Sebin Abraham Jacob, editor of a popular Malayalam news portal, says making comments on a social media platform like Facebook should be done with a sense of responsibility. But at the same time there should be no clause that no on can criticise the government, he said.

“There are a large number of comments by government employees against the Muslim League on Facebook. If action is initiated it should be applicable to all those who commit the same offence,’’ he says.

V K Adarsh, technical manager with a public sector bank, says that all individuals, even if they are government employees, should have the freedom of speech guaranteed in the Constitution.

“They posted the comments after duty hours. However, in one case, the language used was inappropriate,’’ he said.

“The intolerant response on FB and the government action against them may pave the way for private firms to take a decision to prevent their employees from making comments on social media on public issues which in turn will result in curbing freedom of expression,’’  he added.

“The suspension is like taking action against school students who make complaints about other students,’’ said Kenny Jacob, an IT professional. 

However, the common feeling that is that the service rules, as they were formulated at a time when there was no social media, should be amended.

“It is an issue which should be discussed. The employees were suspended for their action which was not befitting public servants,’’ said Chief Secretary E K Bharath Bhushan.

As per the Government Servants Conduct Rules, a government servant shall not under any circumstance discuss or criticise any action of the government.

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