Updated: June 8, 2021 10:05:13 am
With a notification dated May 31, the Centre has amended its pension rules putting new restrictions of officials of intelligence and security organisations after retirement. A look at various restrictions on government servants while in service and after retirement.
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What is new?
The government has amended the CCS Pension Rules-1972. Under amended Rule-8(3)(a), officials retired from certain intelligence and security establishments will not be allowed to write anything about their organisation without permission. It says: “No government servant, who, having worked in any intelligence or security-related organisation included in the Second Schedule of the RTI Act, shall, without prior clearance from the Head of the Organisation, make any publication after retirement, of any material relating to and including: (i) domain of the organisation, including any reference or information about any personnel and his designation, and experience or knowledge gained by virtue of working in that organisation; (ii) sensitive information, the disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state, or relation with a foreign state or which would lead to incitement of an offence.”
The Second Schedule of the RTI Act covers 26 organisations including the Intelligence Bureau, R&AW, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, CBI, NCB, BSF, CRPF, ITBP and CISF.
What are the existing provisions?
The pension of government servants is already subject to their conduct after retirement. Rule 8 of the CCS Pension Rules says: “Future good conduct shall be an implied condition of every grant of pension and its continuance… The appointing authority may, by order in writing, withhold or withdraw a pension or a part thereof, whether permanently or for a specified period, if the pensioner is convicted of a serious crime or is found guilty of grave misconduct… The expression ‘grave misconduct’ includes the communication or disclosure of any secret official code or password or any sketch, plan, model, article, note, document or information… which was obtained while holding office under the Government so as to prejudicially affect the interests of the general public or the security of the state.”
Why amend the rules then?
Sources in the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said this was in process for around four years after the Committee of Secretaries recommended it. It was approved recently and notified on May 31. They said the move was prompted by concerns arising out of the fact that some high-profile retired officers had written books on their tenure, and some of these had revealed information.
What restrictions are government employees under while in service?
Rule 7 of the CCS Conduct Rules restricts government servants from resorting to or abetting any form of strike or coercion.
Rule 8 restricts them, except with government sanction, from owning or participating in the editing or management of any newspaper or other periodical publication or electronic media. If they publish a book or participate in public media, they “shall at all times make it clear that the views expressed by him are his own and not that of Government”.
Rule 9 restricts a government servant from making statements of fact or opinion in writing or in a telecast or a broadcast “which has the effect of an adverse criticism of any current or recent policy or action of the Central Government or a State Government”
Rule 9 of the CCS Pension Rules says that if any government official has committed any misconduct and retires, he or she may face departmental proceedings only until four years of the date of committing that misconduct.
Is a retired government servant restricted from taking up employment?
Rule 26, Death-cum-Retirement Benefits Rules, restricts a pensioner from any commercial employment for one year after retirement, except with previous sanction of the central government. Non-compliance can lead the central government declaring that the employee “shall not be entitled to the whole or such part of the pension and for such period as may be specified”.
This cooling-off period was two years until 2007, when an amendment reduced it to one year.
What about political activity while in service?
The Conduct Rules bars government servants from being associated with any political party or organisation, and from taking part or assisting any political activity. An amendment on November 27, 2014 added a few clauses to Rule 3(1), one of which said, “Every government employee shall at all times maintain political neutrality” and “commit himself to and uphold the supremacy of the Constitution and democratic values”. Incidentally, the RSS is among the “political” organisations listed by the Centre from time to time.
But don’t government servants join politics after retirement?
There is no rule to stop government servants from joining politics after their retirement. In 2013, the Election Commission had written to the DoPT and Law Ministry, suggesting a cooling-off period for bureaucrats joining politics after retirement, but it was rejected. The Legislative Department of the Ministry of Law advised “that any such restriction (against officials joining politics or contesting polls)… may not stand the test of valid classification under Article 14 of the Constitution of India”. And the DoPT told the EC that its suggestions “may not be appropriate and feasible.”
Among many examples in the Centre and the states, former Union Home Secretary R K Singh, who retired on June 30, 2013, joined the BJP on December 14, 2013, has twice been elected Lok Sabha MP since then, and is a Union Minister of State. Aparajita Sarangi, former Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Rural Development, took voluntary retirement on November 16, 2018, joined the BJP on November 27 that year, and is now a Lok Sabha MP.
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