Differences between the ruling Congress and Lt Governor Kiran Bedi came to fore on Tuesday with the government banning the use of social media for official purposes as the Home Minister and party state chief A Namassivayam questioning her decision on suspension of a PCS officer.
The ban order by Chief Minister V Narayanasamy is in contrast to Bedi’s push for the use of social media for monitoring implementation of government schemes.
She has recently created a WhatsApp group for exchange of information and details of implementation of various schemes by the government departments. An Officer on Special Duty in the Raj Nivas is the administrator for the group.
A union territory government circular said the Chief Minister had directed all officers and Heads of departments and employees of government-owned undertakings to immediately desist from using social media such as twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook.
It said the server of these multinational companies were based outside the country.
“Any foreign country can get access to these official communications and documents uploaded which is a violation of Official Secrets Act (OSA) and also against the guidelines issued by the Union Information and Technology Ministry,” PTI quoted the circular.
The circular also said that the Chief Minister instructed that no group should be formed for official communication and the officers should not be members of any official group run in such social media.
“Nor should they interact with seniors bypassing the Administrative hierarchy and routine official channel,” it said and warned of disciplinary and penal action against those violating these instructions.
The circular said wherever it was essential and unavoidable, written permission should be taken from the Chief Secretary for taking up government work through social media.
Bedi had on 31 December suspended Registrar of Cooperative Societies A S Sivakumar after he allegedly posted an “obscene video clip” in the WhatsApp group of officials of which the Officer on Special duty in Raj Nivas is the ‘admin’.
Subsequently, on a complaint from the OSD, a case under Information Technology Act had been registered against the PCS officer.
Reacting to the action, Namassivayam told reporters that the Lt Governor had “failed to follow proper procedure while deciding action against the officer.”
“The Lt Governor should follow the statutory procedures and also create an environment to ensure that the purpose of having an elected government was fulfilled,” he said.
Asked if as PCC president he would urge the Centre to recall Bedi, he said that “I do not make such demands”.
However, he said he would “insist that the Lt Governor function in such a manner that the people’s expectations are fulfilled through the elected ministry and she alsoshould extend her cooperation to the elected ministry”.
Namassivayam said he had asked officials of departments under his control to opt out of the WhatsApp for sharing official communication.
Chief Minister V Narayanasamy had held a meeting of officers including PCS officers some time back to express his displeasure over the use of social media for official communication.However, he did not come out with open comments against the Lt Governor.
Even in the wake of suspension of the PCS officer, he told reporters that he did not want to be drawn “into any administrative matters.”
He has, however, been maintaining that there was clear demarcation of powers and subjects between the Lt Governor and the council of ministers .
“Such demarcation is seen in the constitution of India, the Government of Union Territories Act 1963 and the Conduct of Business Rules,” he has said.
Some of his ministerial colleagues have however been coming out with criticisms against the Lt Governor.
Welfare minister M Kandasamy for instance pointed out recently that the Lt Governor should function in tandem with the elected ministry.
The AIADMK legislature party leader A Anbalagan said yesterday that “frequent tussle between the Lt Governor and ministry is however causing administrative paralysis and the Union Home Ministry should intervene and find a solution including keeping the ministry in suspended animation to bring the agonising situation to an end.”
The BJP’s Puducherry unit leader V Saminathan had also yesterday opposed the comments against the Lt Governor by the Congress.