J&K Govt Issues Fresh Social Media Rules For Its Employees

Civil Secretariat Srinagar | File Photo

Warned Of Action For Discussing, Criticizing Govt Policies

Srinagar- The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Friday issued fresh social media guidelines for its employees working in the Union Territory, warning them against among others, discussion or criticism of the policies pursued by the government on social media pages, communities of microblogs.

In a circular issued here on Friday, the government employees have been asked to strictly adhere and comply with the previous order issued by the General Administration department (GAD) in 2017.

The fresh social media guidelines come at a time when several employees have been suspended for criticizing the government. In a recent such incident, a school teacher was suspended in Ramban district last month for allegedly criticizing government policies on social media.

The government said despite the already existing guidelines and rules Jammu and Kashmir Employees Conduct Rules, 1971 it has been observed that government servants often engage themselves with social media in a manner which is in contravention to these rules.

“While using different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. or Instant Messaging applications like WhatsApp, Telegram etc., employees have been seen to air disparaging views on subjects that they are expressly barred under rules to comment upon,” reads the GAD order.

It further says that the employees have been seen to comment or act or behave in a manner that does not conform to the acceptable standards of official conduct, as envisaged in the existing guidelines and the rules.

“Such actions range from unauthorised communication of official information and/or dissemination of patently wrong or misleading information, airing of political or communal views etc. under their real or assumed identities,” the order reads.

The government order mentions that it has been felt expedient to reiterate the main features of guidelines already notified regarding use of social media for compliance by the government employees:

1. Employees, directly or indirectly, shall not publish, post or release any information on social media that is considered confidential or that is not meant for public dissemination, nor shall they pass any official document or any part thereof to any Government employee or any such person to whom he is not authorized to communicate such document or information.

2. No Government employee shall, through any post, tweet or otherwise, discuss or criticize on social media, any policy pursued or action taken by the Government, nor shall he/she, in any manner, participate in any such discussion or criticism on social media pages/communities/ microblogs.

III. No Government employee shall post, tweet or share content that is political or anti-secular and communal in nature or subscribe to pages, communities or twitter handles and blogs of such nature.

1. No Government employee shall himself/herself or through any person dependent on him/her for maintenance, or under his care or control, undertake any such activity on social media which is, or tends directly or indirectly to be, subversive of the Government as by law established in the Country or in the Union territory.

2. A Government employee may, for the purpose or removing misapprehensions, correcting misstatements, and refuting disloyal and seditious propaganda, defend and explain to the public the policy of Government in his posts and tweets on social media.

3. Government employees shall not post on social media, any such content or comments about co-workers or individuals, that are vulgar, obscene, threatening, intimidating or that violate the conduct rules or employees.

VII. No Government employee shall post grievances pertaining to their workplace on social media in the form of videos, posts, tweets or blogs or in any other form, but will follow the already established channels of complaint redressal existing in the departments.

VIII. Government employees shall not indulge in sharing/partaking in so-called giveaways and contests on social media platforms, which are actually scams in disguise, as they could unknowingly spread malware or trick people into giving away sensitive data by sharing it on their profiles.

The government order,  however, clarified that the above guidelines are not intended to dissuade employees/departments from using social media for positive and constructive purposes.

“It is accordingly enjoined upon all employees working in various government departments/PSUs/Corporations/Boards/Autonomous Bodies etc. to strictly adhere to the guidelines and legal principles reproduced herein above and issued vide Government Order and refrain from indulging in unwarranted debates/discussions and sharing/commenting/posting inappropriate posts/content on social media platforms,” the order says.

It further warns employees that any violation of these guidelines/ rules shall tantamount to misconduct and invite disciplinary action against the delinquent official under the relevant rules.

“All Administrative Secretaries/Deputy Commissioners/Heads of Departments/Managing Directors shall immediately proceed against the employees working in their departments/offices who are found to have violated the aforesaid guidelines and rules, in terms of the relevant disciplinary framework,” the order reads.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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