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J&K Employees Can’t Criticize Govt Under New Social Media Guidelines

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The Government of Jammu and Kashmir has issued a circular regarding the use of social media by its employees. An elaborate set of guidelines regarding the use of social media by government employees has been notified for strict adherence/compliance. The circular has been issued in compliance with Government Order No. 1646-JK (GAD) of 2017, dated 26.12.2017, and the provisions relating to the issue incorporated in the Jammu and Kashmir Employees Conduct Rules, 1971.

According to the guidelines, no government employee shall, by any utterance, writing or otherwise discuss or criticize in public or in any meeting of any association or body any policy pursued or action taken by the government nor shall he in any manner participate in any such discussion or criticism. Additionally, no government employee shall, in any radio broadcast or in any document published in his own name or anonymously, pseudonymously, or in the name of any other person or in any communication to the press or in any public utterance make any statement of fact or opinion that has the effect of adverse criticism of any current or recent policy or action of the Government of India, Government of Jammu and Kashmir, or any other State Government.

The circular also lists out the activities that are not to be carried out by the employees on social media. It warns that violation of the conduct rules can be punished under rule 30 of the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Classification, Control, and Appeal) Rules, 1956. Punishments for violations include censure, fines, withholding of increments and/or promotion, reduction to a lower post and/or time-scale, recovery from pay of the whole or part of any pecuniary loss caused to the government by negligence or breach of orders, premature retirement on proportionate pension, and removal from the service of the state that does not disqualify from future employment.

The circular also cites the Information Technology Act, which makes users liable should they post any incriminating or illegal content or material on social media. The guidelines have been welcomed by citizens, who have expressed hope that the employees will follow them strictly to maintain public trust in the government.

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