Updated: September 17, 2021 7:41:08 am
In an order issued Thursday, the Jammu and Kashmir administration set wide-ranging parameters for “discrete verification” of government employees, which in effect puts an increasing burden on them.
The major concerns set out by the administration during periodic verification of character and antecedents of government employees include serious offences such as involvement in any act of sabotage, espionage, treason, terrorism, subversion, sedition/ secession, facilitating foreign interference, incitement to violence “or any other unconstitutional act”.
But what has triggered concerns in the Union Territory is the broad and vague nature of the new parameters to verify an employee’s character – the order states that “association or sympathy” with persons who are attempting to commit such offences or are involved in “aiding or abetting or advocating” these activities, can put the employee at the risk of losing verification and even his or her job.
A list of “adversely reported employees” prepared from time to time will be taken into cognisance by administrative departments and reported to the General Administration Department. If such employees are due for promotion, their cases shall be put on hold immediately.
Further, these cases will be submitted to a UT-level Screening Committee chaired by the Principal Home Secretary. This committee can act upon it, including terminating an employment from service. A Review Committee chaired by the Chief Secretary can review the decision if it is referred to by the Screening Committee or on the representation of the aggrieved employee.
The order — issued in continuation to the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Character & Antecedents) Instructions, 1997 — provides “instructions” to be kept in mind by the administration during verification.
The latest order follows a recent circular that mandates J&K government employees to secure a vigilance clearance to obtain a passport. It has been passed under provisions of Article 311(2) (C) of the Constitution that gives the administration power to terminate an employee without constituting an inquiry against him or her on grounds of security.
In the verification process, the order instructs departments to keep in mind the “involvement of an individual’s immediate family, persons sharing residential space with the employee to whom he or she may be bound by affection, influence, or obligation or involved in any of the acts, directly or indirectly, having potential of subjecting the individual to duress, thereby posing a grave security risk.”
Putting the onus of reporting on family members of the employees, the order also notes that “failure to report relatives, persons sharing residential space or associates who are connected with any foreign government, associations, foreign nationals known to be directly or indirectly hostile to India’s national and security interests” would also make them liable to lose verification.
Failure to “report contacts with citizens of other countries or financial interests in other countries which make an individual potentially vulnerable to coercion, exploitation, or pressure by a foreign government” will also call an employee’s antecedents into question, the order states.
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