Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi Thursday revoked Chief Minister V Narayanasamy’s order barring social media use for official purposes. Narayanasamy had issued the order on January 2 citing location of many social media servers abroad.
“Therefore, any foreign country can get these official communication and documents uploaded therein. This is a violation of Official Secrets Act and also against the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Information Technology,” said the order. Bedi cancelled it, insisting that the order was “issued in contravention of guidelines, rules and policies”.
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Narayanasamy maintained that using social media for giving information about transfers, decisions and circulars is illegal. “I do not want to comment on her decision to take it to Twitter. Official communication at the top of a government system should not be handled in such a manner.’’
Bedi called the ban a mistake. “There are government guidelines to use social media,” she said, citing a circular dated July 4, 2016. She defended her move to tag the PMO in her tweet announcing the cancellation. “What is wrong in it? Is saying the truth a provocation? Is being transparent a provocation to anyone?”
Bedi had created many WhatsApp groups for quick dissemination of government directions and addressing public issues in July 2016. This had triggered a controversy as it was alleged that she had created the groups to bypass the CM and his cabinet.
Narayanasamy had called a meeting in July to remind officers of the protocol to be followed in handling official matters. He had warned them not to bypass ministers. The chief minister felt that Bedi was using WhatsApp groups to control government affairs. Bedi has intervened to address civic problems based on complaints she has received on WhatsApp. Assembly Speaker V Vaithilingam, who has been involved in a power struggle with Narayanasamy, had taken residents from his constituency to meet Bedi to discuss an encroachment issue in June. “Not just Vaithilingam, many ministers and MLAs are directly approaching her, inspired by her quick actions on complaints.’’