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It’s Kiran Bedi vs Narayanasamy in Puducherry; LG nullifies CM’s order banning official communication on social media

LG Kiran Bedi cancelled Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy’s order barring the use of social media for official communications.
India TV Politics Desk Puducherry January 05, 2017 16:34 IST
India TV Politics Desk

The already tensed relationship between Congress-led government in Puducherry and Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi further deteriorated today when the latter cancelled Chief Minister V Narayanasamy’s order barring the use of social media for official communications. 

In her order issued through the Lieutenant Governor’s secretariat, Bedi declared the circular dated Jan 2, 2017, of the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (Personnel Wing) with the subject as null and void with immediate effect. 

The government banned the use of social media, such as WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter, after Bedi suspended a Pondicherry Civil Service cadre officer for posting a lewd video on a WhatsApp group initiated by her for passing on instructions to officials. 

The ban order by Chief Minister was in contrast to Bedi's push for the use of social media for monitoring implementation of government schemes.

“If Puducherry has to be a progressive UT it cannot be retrograde in communications,” Bedi said on Twitter along with a picture of the order issued under her name.  

She posted the order as well as the order issued by the CM and also tagged the PMO. 

Bedi 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.  

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 of which the Officer on Special duty in Raj Nivas is the 'admin'.  

Subsequently, on a complaint from the OSD, a case under Information Technology Act had been registered against the PCS officer. 

However, the Election Commission of India stayed the suspension on Wednesday as  the official concerned had been appointed as Electoral Registration Officer for the ongoing electoral roll revision. 

The ECI categorically stated that the official, in his capacity as electoral officer, is subject to "control, superintendence and discipline of the Commission under section 13 cc of the Representation of People Act, 1950", and the LG should have taken the Commission into confidence and consulted the matter before placing the official under suspension. 

A union territory government circular on January 2 said the Chief Minister 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.