Differences between the ruling Congress and Lt Governor Kiran Bedi came to fore on Tuesday, with the government banning the use of social media for official purposes as the home minister and party state chief A Namassivayam questioned her decision on the suspension of a PCS officer.
The ban order by chief minister V Narayanasamy is in contrast to Bedi’s push for the use of social media for monitoring implementation of government schemes.
Bedi 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.
A Union Territory government circular said the CM 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 CM 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 AS 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.
Reacting to the action, Namassivayam told reporters on Tuesday that the Lt Governor had “failed to follow proper procedure while deciding action against the officer”.
“The Lt Governor should follow the statutory procedures and also create an environment to ensure that the purpose of having an elected government was fulfilled,” he said.
Asked if as PCC president he would urge the Centre to recall Bedi, he said that “I do not make such demands”.
However, he said he would “insist that the Lt Governor function in such a manner that the people’s expectations are fulfilled through the elected ministry and she also should extend her cooperation to the elected ministry”.
Namassivayam said he had asked officials of departments under his control to opt out of the WhatsApp for sharing official communication.