Rajasthan government has issued an instruction that if any government employee criticises the government or any of the government’s decisions, then he will face strict disciplinary action. A formal circular has been issued in this regard.
The circular states: ‘some officials and employees are not following the rules and baseless accusations are being spread (against the government) in the press and through social media. Such improper and undignified conduct is tarnishing the (government) departments’ image.”
The circular asks officials and employees to ensure that they do not spread any false, baseless and unverified comment on a public forum against any particular person, party or institution which may harm their reputation or prestige. People not adhering to it have been warned of a strict disciplinary action against them.
This circular has been sent to all commissioners, district collectors and director general of police on behalf of the governing secretary of Rajasthan government Bhaskar A Sawant. One copy of the circular has been sent to the governor and the chief minister too.
The circular says that if an employee even shares a post criticising the government on social media, then he will also face the action. The circular has in this regard referred to the rules 3, 4 and 11 of the Rajasthan civil services conduct rules, 1971.
This instruction by the Rajasthan government issued on October 2, 2017 completely violates Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, because the freedom of expression does not mean to only praise the government or a particular person. In fact, freedom of speech means freedom to criticise because without it, this freedom is senseless.
In the case of Kameshwar Prasad vs Bihar Government, the Supreme Court held that the government employees are free to hold protests criticising the government policies. Not only this, In Article 309, a section was added which clearly says that even after agreeing to the rules made by the government, the person does not give up his fundamental rights to the state.
In Devendrappa vs Karnataka Small Scale Industry too, the Supreme Court stated in its judgment that well-intentioned criticism only enhances the capabilities of the government.
All these judicial decisions clearly indicate that this order by the Rajasthan government is not in line with the basic spirit of the Constitution. All the organisation of government employees and officers are not meant for singing praises of the government but to review and analyse government’s policies and actions, which cannot be suppressed by such order.
This order by the Rajasthan government only remind of a statement allegedly made by Idi Amin, “ You are free to speak but after that what will happen to you, I can’t say!”