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Home / Cities / Goa: Opposition demands withdrawal of circular ‘gagging’ government employees

Goa: Opposition demands withdrawal of circular ‘gagging’ government employees

The circular warning its employees against signing petitions, representations or taking part in campaigns against the state’s policies has drawn flak from Opposition parties

cities Updated: Sep 10, 2020 17:12 IST
Gerard de Souza
Gerard de Souza
Hindustan Times, Panaji
Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant.
Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant.(ANI)

The Pramod Sawant-led Goa government’s decision to issue a circular warning its employees against signing petitions, representations or taking part in campaigns against the state’s policies have drawn flak from opposition parties

The opposition dubbed the move as purported bids to gag the state government employees.

“[The] right to protest against injustice is [a] democratic right of every citizen. The Goa government must withdraw [the] ‘ban on protest’ order and ensure that hardworking government employees are given full support in these testing times because the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and are not forced to protest,” tweeted Digambar Kamat, the leader of the opposition in the Goa legislative assembly.

Also read: Goa’s Sindhu Prabhudesai Nayak among winners of national teachers’ awards

The Goa Forward Party (GFP), an opposition outfit, has also spoken against the state government’s alleged draconian move.

“This is about civil liberties. The way the government is issuing orders to muzzle voices is fascism of the highest order. These are state government employees and not bonded labourers,” alleged Durgadas Kamat, spokesperson, GFP.

On Wednesday, the state government had issued a circular directing employees not to involve “in any agitations or campaigns, which would amount to the criticism of the government, or to sign and submit representations without routing it through proper channels”.

The government had warned that any violation of the Central Civil Service (CCS) (Conduct) Rules, 1964 “will attract disciplinary action”.

“The CCS (Conduct) rules, 1964, have a provision by which a government employee can express h/his opinion for consideration of the government. It is imperative that all government employees adhere to the provisions of the CCS (Conduct) Rules, 1964, scrupulously as its violation will attract disciplinary action,” Sanjeev C Gauns Dessai, director, vigilance, Goa, had stated in his circular that was sent to all heads of departments and government undertakings.

The government cited no specific instances but only stated that “a number of government employees are getting involved in agitations, campaigns against its politics and signing petitions to that effect”.

While the circular doesn’t give any specific instance or violation of the rules, government employees, especially those at the state secretariat, have recently agitated after they were made to work without any compliance with social distancing norms amid a spike in Covid-19 cases in the state.

Later, the government paid heed to their demands and ordered that not more than 50% of the secretariat staff should come for work on a day and also introduced a rotational presence of workforce until the pandemic-induced healthcare crisis blows over.

A delegation of state government employees, through their association, had also called on then Goa governor Satya Pal Malik when the state government had decided to scrap a housing loan scheme as part of an austerity drive because of the viral outbreak.

Several employees had also raised their voice against government-run projects, especially within the wildlife sanctuaries, raising concerns about the destruction of the tiny coastal state’s fragile ecosystem.

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