Why in News?
Recently govt brought a new order that prohibits officers who retired, from any of the 25 listed critical organizations that deal with state security, to publish without taking prior clearance from the govt.
Syllabus—GS2: Issues related to Civil Servants
- In an attempt to stop retired security and intelligence officials from commenting critically on issues relating to current policy, the Narendra Modi government has notified an amendment to the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules 1972 prohibiting them from communicating to the media or publishing any letter or book or other document on subjects that fall within the “domain” of the organisations they served without prior clearance.
What are the amendments?
- The amendment has been introduced in Rule 8, dealing with ‘Pension subject to future good conduct’, which means any violation of the new guideline would jeopardise a retired officer’s pension.
- The new prohibition placed on any writing that touches upon the “domain of the organisation… and expertise or knowledge gained by virtue of working in that organisation” is so broad and vague that some retired officials from the security and intelligence establishment who comment on public affairs see this as an attempt to browbeat critics of the government into silence.
- In effect, the new rule means former R&AW officials can no longer write articles in the media on any foreign or security related subject such as Pakistan, Afghanistan or China without prior clearance as the organisation’s ‘domain’ covers them. A former Intelligence Bureau official will be barred from writing on communal violence or the mishandling of internal security issues or even domestic politics since the IB’s domain includes those.
Rationale behind the rules:
- The present dispensation takes no chance with retired bureaucrats & sternly reminds them not to disclose information that would prejudicially affect
- the sovereignty & integrity of India,
- the security & strategic,
- Scientific or economic interests of the state.
- It is unusual for the current regime to be so explicit for those who worked in specific intelligence & security organizations & organizations prone to raiding like the CBI or ED.
- The notification also amends the central pension rules enabling the govt to withhold the pension of those who defy.
- Also says that pension is not in the nature of reward but there is a binding obligation that can be claimed as a right.
- But the catch is that it insists on future good conduct as a condition of every grant of pension & its continuance.
- The courts have not amused & have historically ruled in favor of pensioners.
- There are several judgments against executives using pensions against troublesome retirees.
- But courts in the recent past have been appeared to be quiet when the security clause is invoked by the govt.
- However, SC in Dr. Hira Lal v. State of Bihar 2020 case held that the right to pension cannot be taken away by a mere executive fiat or administrative instruction.
- Pensions & gratuity are not mere bounties or given out of generosity by the employer.
- The employee earns these benefits by virtue of his long, continuous, faithful & unblemished service.
- This does not entitle a retired officer to endanger the nation’s security but one is surely mature enough to distinguish between genuine protest & sedition.
Counter to the rules:
- Holding a view contrary to the govts prevailing narrative can surely not be equated with treachery.
- Many of opinion & feel that it would be beneficial for India’s security system if experienced police officers analyzed why & how grievous lapses in intelligence & security took place in a tightly controlled zone like Pulwama.
- Hence the orders that were meant for colonial times or even for the late 20th century may not suffice.
Way Forward: –
- The counter strategy to muster obliging retired bureaucrats and diplomats to speak in the government’s favour and attack their former colleagues has not been a box-office hit.
- It may certainly have been more productive if the government tried to understand what drives such large numbers of retired secretaries, ambassadors, directors-general of police and others to speak out against its policies.
- After all, till recently, senior bureaucrats retired in peace and were quite satisfied with playing bridge or golf. Even now, the vast majority holds its tongue, as it has been trained to, over a whole lifetime.
- Many bureaucrats surely know better than the public what benefits accrue from silence and acquiesce.
- The risks of contesting the government are high, but then, there comes a crossroad in life when a 92-year-old Julio Ribeiro and many of his retired colleagues just have to speak up.
There is no doubt that there is alarm over the retired officers who are flashing too many yellow & red flags on the current regimes’ acts of omission & commission. The govt rather than attacking the retired officers, the more productive way is for govt to understand those officers’ intention of speaking against its policies. Comment