In a direct face-off with Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, Puducherry LG Kiran Bedi on Thursday cancelled his order banning the use of social media for official work. The Puducherry government had on January 3 banned the use of social media for official purposes. The ban order by Narayanasamy was in contrast to Bedi’s push for the use of social media for monitoring implementation of government schemes.
Bedi, who was in Delhi for the past few days, posted a copy of her order on her personal Twitter handle declaring the government circular “null and void” with immediate effect on the ground that it was issued “in contravention of guidelines, rules and policies of the government”.
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— Kiran Bedi (@thekiranbedi) January 5, 2017
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.
In a circular, the union territory government 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,” it said.
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 December 31 suspended Registrar of Cooperative Societies A S Sivakumar after he allegedly posted an “obscene video clip” in the WhatsApp group of officials. Subsequently, on a complaint from the OSD, a case under the Information Technology Act had been registered against the PCS officer.