Government officials who use social media will now have to be absolutely mindful of what they post on these platforms. 

Tightening the noose on its officials, the Centre has now planned to amend the conduct rules designed for them by adding social media to the list of platforms where they will be barred from making any anti-government statements.

The proposal comes after an IAS officer Ajay Gangwar put up a Facebook post critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and praised first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Subsequently, he was transferred by the BJP’s Madhya Pradesh government and was told to give an explanation. 

In a similar case, a senior officer from Assam Police, was suspended for putting out anti-Muslim posts on Facebook. Fearing more such instances and to keep a check on government criticism, social media is now added to the ambit of laws.

So, basically, any criticism of the government or its policies on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook etc by government officials will get them into trouble and will attract disciplinary action under the new Conduct Rules, reported Economic Times.

Presently, the conduct rules bar government officials from criticising the Centre on radio, television or public media but realising the tremendous reach and potential of social media, the government has come up with this new diktat. 

Source: b'Source: PTI'

These rules are part of the proposed changes in All India Service (Conduct) Rules, 1968, which are applicable to three all India services --Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service (IFoS). 

The Conduct Rules define “criticism” as a fact or opinion which has the effect of an adverse remark on any current or recent policy action of the Central government or a State government, capable of embarrassing relations between the Central government and any State government or capable of embarrassing the relations between the Central government and the government of any foreign state.

In the context of social media, the government however wants to introduce another provision allowing government officials to participate in any public media including social media websites without the prior sanction of the government if the same is required by the officer as part of bonafide discharge of his duties. Many officials are now flocking to Twitter and Facebook to communicate government decisions and the provision seems to be aimed at the same.