HYDERABAD: Smita Sabharwal, senior bureaucrat and secretary to Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, on Friday, after tweeting on the release of rape convicts in the Bilkis Bano case on Thursday, suggested (to the Centre) that the civil service be ungagged.
In a series of tweets, she referred to the Bilkis Bano case and, in a particular tweet, said, “Is it not time to ungag #civil service. We give the best years of our life, learning and unlearning our pride that is #India. We are informed stakeholders. then why this ? #freedom of speech (sic).”
She also retweeted a cartoon that took a dig at the release of the convicts and economist Kaushik Basu’s tweet stating garlanding rape convicted and distributing celebratory sweets “was a matter of global shame for India”.
Smita then referred to freedom of expression to government employees as mentioned in rule 9 of Central Civil Services (conduct) Rules 1964, the subsection (i) of which says no government servant shall make any statement of fact or opinion in any form of communication which has the effect of an adverse criticism of any current or recent policy or action of the Central government or a state government.
The Bharatiya Janata Party had on Thursday dubbed her reaction to the release of convicts as ‘selective’ and questioned her silence on several incidents of human rights violations. Twitterati were divided again over her statements on social media with some appreciating her and linking it to Chandrashekar Rao’s demand for re-writing the Constitution, and others dubbing her as TRS supporter nurturing political ambitions.
Asked how her tweets on Bilkis Bano case could be viewed as violation of service rules, because she did not resort to any criticism, a senior Central official told Deccan Chronicle that the issue was sensitive because the rape convicts’ release was a decision made by another state government. “Anyway, it’s for the department of personnel and training to decide,” he said....