CITING “LEAKS” of “confidential information”, the Uttarakhand government has barred entry of “unauthorised persons/ reporters” into government offices.
“Entry of unauthorised persons/ reporters to the sections/ offices (of government departments) must be completely prohibited,” Uttarkhand Chief Secretary Utpal Kumar Singh has said in a three-page order dated December 27, marked to all additional secretaries, principal secretaries and secretaries.
“Any visitor who is visiting a government office for personal work will not be allowed to meet any government official or any member of the office staff in the office premises,” says the order, adding that in case of “important matters”, the government official can meet the visitor “at the office reception”.
The order specifically mentions that the agenda of cabinet meetings has been leaked to the media in the past. “Publishing of the issues/ proposals meant for the cabinet, prior to the cabinet meeting is absolutely unfortunate and objectionable. It affects the decision to be taken by the cabinet… The cabinet has expressed regret and objection towards the disregard (by government officials) of instructions already in place,” it says.
“If any subject/ proposal meant for the cabinet does get published in the newspapers/ media prior to the cabinet meeting, then the additional secretary/ principal secretary/ secretary/ secretary in-charge of the concerned department will immediately probe the cause of the leak (and will inform the chief secretary),” says the order.
Referring to an earlier government order dated August 16, 2010 regarding publication of information related to cabinet meetings, it adds, “it has come to our notice that government departments have not been following the instructions laid out for disseminating information to the media.”
Asking IAS officers to maintain confidentiality on cabinet matters, the order lists a set of instructions, including sending documents in “sealed envelopes”, to be opened only by the official to whom the envelopes are addressed.
Speaking to mediapersons on Thursday, Singh said: “There’s some confusion regarding the order that mentioned that entry of unauthorised persons/ reporters to our section offices would be prohibited. I wish to clarify that the Uttarakhand government is committed towards disseminating correct and authentic information to mediapersons, for which it is important that we form a proper means of disseminating information to the media.”
He said the Director (Information) would hold a daily briefing, at 4 pm, to give out “information to the media on important occurrences that the government wishes to convey information about.”
“We want to give you authentic information in an orderly fashion. We don’t want you to work unnecessarily,” said Singh.