To “stop confidential information from reaching the media”, Uttarakhand Chief Secretary Utpal Kumar Singh has issued orders restricting media persons from entering government offices.
In a three-page order marked ‘confidential’, Singh, on December 27, issued a list of orders to be followed by the IAS officers heading all government departments. “Entry of unauthorised persons/reporters to the sections/offices (of government departments) must be completely prohibited,” the order stated.
The order specially pointed out information leaks on matters listed for Cabinet meetings. “Publishing of the issues/proposals meant for the Cabinet, prior to the Cabinet meeting is absolutely unfortunate and objectionable”, it stated.
Asking the IAS officers to maintain the confidentiality on matters listed for the Cabinet, the order encompasses a set of instructions for attaining confidentiality, including the sending of the documents from one official to another in “sealed envelopes” to be opened only by the official to whom the envelopes have been addressed.
“If any subject/proposal meant for the Cabinet does get published in the newspapers/media prior to the Cabinet meeting then the additional chief secretary/principal secretary/secretary/secretary incharge of the concerned department will immediately probe the cause of the leak (and will inform the chief secretary),” the order stated.
Addressing the media, on Thursday, Singh said, “We want to give you (the media) authentic information (especially regarding Cabinet meetings) in an orderly fashion, the process of which is underway. We don’t want you to work unnecessarily (to fetch information from government departments).”
Few major leaks from government departments, last year, had landed the central government and the state government in a soup. In one of the leaked letters the Union minister Nitin Gadkari had warned Chief Minister Trivendra Singh against asking for a CBI probe into an alleged scam in farmland acquisition for widening of National Highway 74. In another leaked letter, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) Chairman Y S Malik had written to the chief minister asking him to drop names of NHAI officials from an FIR on the compensation paid for the land acquired for the widening of NH-74.