Haryana agriculture department employee lands in soup over Facebook post on farmer protests
An agriculture department employee of Charkhi Dadri in Haryana was suspended over his Facebook post on the farmers’ protest and has jeopardized chances of timely delivery of his retiral benefits.
The matter came to light when the officer, Ranbir Singh Mann, technical assistant at deputy director, agriculture and farmer welfare department, Bhiwani, approached the Punjab and Haryana high court on December 4 challenging his suspension order of September 25. He sought direction that since he retires on December 31, the department be asked to take a decision on his response submitted after a show cause notice before. He was also transferred from Bhiwani office to director’s office in Panchkula following the episode.
The three posts on September 10 and September 11, as per Mann, were put by his granddaughter whom he had given his Facebook account access to attend online classes during Covid-19 outbreak. He was suspended and transferred on September 25 and issued show cause notice under conduct rules for government employees for criticising government.
The Facebook posts had suggested that whenever governments tried to disturb farmers, they ruined themselves, second exhorting to listen to demands of farmers and another one praising farmer leader late Chhotu Ram for getting “double rate” for wheat that too in British era. That is why farmers supported such leaders, the posts had suggested.
In the high court, he had stated that the “correct position” with regard to the comments posted have been explained to authorities on September 29. However, the authorities have not taken a decision on the same after lapse of over two months. The petitioner is at the end of his career as he is about to superannuate on December 31 and in case, the appropriate decision is not taken by the competent authority prior to the said date, he is likely to suffer prejudice on the release of his retiral benefits, his counsel had told court.
He had argued that his Facebook posts do not violate any provisions of the Haryana Civil Service (Government Employees Conduct) Rules, 2016. He had also argued that he cannot be prevented from expressing his views merely because he is an employee. In a democratic society, every government institution is governed by democratic norms. Healthy criticism is a better way of good governance, he had argued. He had also levelled allegations against the deputy director for keeping a personal grudge. Now, the high court has disposed of the plea as government counsel assured the court that appropriate order will be passed within a period of three weeks.