A strange case of diplomatic logjam is being witnessed right now, especially within Finance Ministry. While on one hand is the freedom of expression provided by our Constitution, there is the issue of following ‘service book’ regulations, when it comes to performing Govt. duty.
Which should be compromised here: Freedom or Rules?
Increasing Protests Against Govt. Policies By Govt. Employees
Recently, various employees belonging to different departments under Finance Ministry had openly protested and criticized Govt. over their eagerness and drive to implement GST regime across India.
In a strike by All India Confederation of Commercial Taxes Association (AICCTA), a full day’s work was interrupted last year. Now, this strong association boasts of 6,000 gazetted officers and 2 lakh Class-III and IV employees, who demanded a fair share in the administration of taxes under GST.
Then, over 7,000 Income Tax officials had protested against GST by wearing black bands last month.
Besides these, employees from Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) had also protested against Finance Ministry over GST decisions.
In the last three months, Finance Ministry witnessed protests by employees from Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise), All India Association of Central Excise Gazetted Executive Officers, All India Central Excise Inspectors’ Association and All India Central Excise and Service Tax Ministerial Officers Association as well.
Under attack from so many quarters, Finance Ministry has now issued an ultimatum and warning for all these protesting employees.
Govt Warns Employees Against Sharing Their Opinions
In a recent order, Finance Ministry has reiterated rules and regulations for all Govt. employees, and have asked them to view the service rule book again for any clarity.
Just for making you clear, here is what Service Book tells for Govt. employees: “No government servant shall, in any radio broadcast, telecast through any electronic media or in any document published in his own name or anonymously, or in the name of any other person or in any communication to the press or in any public utterance, make any statement of fact or opinion which has the effect of an adverse criticism of any current or recent policy or action of the central government or state government,” reads the service rules.”
Another lobby of experienced Govt. employees have said that the service rule book doesn’t prohibit the employees from ‘expressing’ their opinions, but rather doesn’t allow them to stop a policy from being implemented or stop functioning.
Considering that some employees disrupted the proper functioning of Govt. services via strikes, this notification was issued.
An unnamed official from the Department of Personnel and Training said, “You can criticize the policies of the government, but cannot stop it from functioning. The rule book was recently cited since an attempt was made to stop the policy, not criticize it,”
Do you think that Govt. employees shouldn’t be allowed to express their opinions on sensitive issues? Or it is fine for them to protest against Govt. policies? Do let us know by commenting right here!