NEW DELHI: The government has decided to read out the service rule book that governs a government employee, in an attempt to stop possible unrest against government policies.
In a recent order, the finance ministry reiterated the rules and regulations and cautioned employees of disciplinary action if they fail to follow the norms laid down in their service book. Recently, a few associations representing the employees of Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) had protested against certain decisions taken by the GST Council led by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on the tax reform.
Even in the past, instructions were issued to all concerned to refrain from commenting adversely on the government and its policies, a senior official in the finance ministry said. “No government servant shall, in any radio broadcast, telecast through any electronic media or in any document published in his own name or anonymously, or in the name of any other person or in any communication to the press or in any public utterance, make any statement of fact or opinion which has the effect of an adverse criticism of any current or recent policy or action of the central government or state government,” reads the service rules.
Certain members of Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise), All India Association of Central Excise Gazetted Executive Officers, All India Central Excise Inspectors’ Association and All India Central Excise and Service Tax Ministerial Officers Association had recently participated in a symbolic protest to oppose some decisions taken by the GST Council.
A senior government official clarified that service rules are regularly reported in various office memos. But, it doesn’t curtail personal freedom in any way. “You can criticise the policies of the government, but cannot stop it from functioning. The rule book was recently cited, since an attempt was made to stop the policy not criticise it,” explained the official with the Department of Personnel and Training.
The official also highlighted that, when an individual enters the service, the service rule book clearly states his role, duties, responsibilities and also the manner of conduct. “In the past, those who felt policies and programmes were wrong would choose to first resign and then voice their concerns,” the officials added.