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Pol parties resent govt order making employees liable for activities of their family members, relatives etc

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Srinagar: The government of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has issued an order saying that all the government employees here are liable for activities of their family members association or sympathy with persons being involved in “activities against national interest”.

The order number 957-JK(GAD) of 2021 Dated:16.09.2021 regarding the verification of character and antecedents of government employees, reads that “…in continuation to Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Character & Antecedents) Instructions, 1997, notified vide Government Order No. 1918-GAD of 1997 dated 09.12.1997, as amended from time to time, the following instructions shall be kept in mind in furtherance of above during periodic verification of character and antecedents of Government employees:

“Involvement in any act of sabotage, espionage, treason, terrorism, subversion, sedition, secession, facilitating foreign interference, incitement to violence or any other unconstitutional act;

“Association or sympathy with persons who are attempting to commit any of the above acts or involved in aiding or abetting or advocating the above acts;

“Involvement of an Individual’s immediate family, persons sharing residential space with the employee to whom he or she may be bound by affection, influence, or obligation or involved in any of the acts, directly or indirectly, mentioned at Item numbers ‘I’ & ‘II’ above, having potential of subjecting the individual to duress, thereby posing a grave security risk;

“Failure to report relatives, persons sharing residential space or associates who are connected with any foreign Government, associations, foreign nationals known to be directly or indirectly hostile to India’s national and security interests;

“Failure to report unauthorized association with a suspected or known collaborator or employee of a foreign intelligence service;

“Reports indicating that representatives or nationals from a foreign country are acting to increase the vulnerability of the individual to possible future exploitation, coercion or pressure and;

“Failure to report contacts with citizens of other countries or financial interests in other countries which make an individual potentially vulnerable to coercion, exploitation, or pressure by a foreign Government”.

The order further reads that on the basis of discrete verifications on above parameters, a list of adversely reported employees received by the government from time to time shall be taken into cognizance by the concerned Administrative departments which shall then immediately report it to the General Administration Department.

It further reads that if such employee(s) are due for promotion (functional/non-functional), their cases shall be put on hold immediately.

“On confirmation of the adverse report by the UT Level Screening Committee, further action shall be taken against the adversely reported employee(s), which may include termination from Government services. The decision of the UT Level Screening Committee can be reviewed by the Review Committee, on reference to it by the UT Level Screening Committee or on the representation of any aggrieved employee(s),” the order reads.

Meanwhile, various political parties here on Friday condemned the government order which makes employees liable for the “anti-national” activities of their relatives and acquaintances as arbitrary and dictatorial.

Calling the new set of rules with regards to J&K employees an upfront against their rights and privileges, National Conference spokesperson said that the new government order is yet another set of arbitrary decisions that undermine the perception of natural justice, and basic human rights.

The latest order, he said, is another addition to the “laws of exception” being thrust on the people of J&K.

“There was no need to have such an order in the first place as the service rules of government employees are already guided by various laws. The new set of rules has tightened the juggernaut around the necks of J&K employees pushing them towards a state of despondency. How can the employees work in such an atmosphere of suspicion?” NC spokesperson said in a statement here.

The new set of rules, he said infringes the fundamental rights of employees, who as per the new rules are liable to punishment if they fail to report their relative’s offenses, if any.

“Why should an employee pay for someone else’s crime? Similarly, denying passports to employees based on vigilance cases cannot be a substitute for being proven guilty by the court of law.  The latest rules have blurred the distinction between executive and judiciary. It also goes against the presumption of innocence — a legal principle that everyone accused of any offence is innocent until proven guilty. The administration has done away with the legal aspect of prosecution,” he said.

Demanding the roll-back of the latest rules, NC said the order should be rolled-back in wake of the unwholesome consequences it will have on the work culture in government departments.

“The overbearing of such rules and regulations will not only impact the work culture but also wean off scores of employees from their livelihood. Therefore in the interests of employees, the new set of rules should be rolled-back forthwith,” the NC spokesperson said.

Peoples Conference (PC) termed the recently issued government directive pertaining to the character verification and antecedents of government employees yet another diktat aimed at trampling upon the democratic rights of the people and denying them, and throwing the constitutional safeguards to the winds.

The PC spokesperson in a statement said that the circular issued on September 16, this year, is “nasty and objectionable, issued in a mad rush to hound the employee fraternity of Jammu and Kashmir”.

In a legal jurisprudence, a person is liable and responsible only for his own sins and actions, the spokesperson said.

“One cannot be held responsible for someone else’s actions unless he is complicit, conniving or conspiring with him.  Government Order No. 957 dated 16:09:2021 is a flagrant infringement of fundamental rights of citizens and a violation of Right to Freedom guaranteed by Article 20 of the Indian Constitution,” he said.

“One can understand a person’s involvement in an illegal act or his association or sympathy with persons aiding and abetting commission of any illegal act but how can the government justify clause (iii), (iv) and (v) which make a person liable for any act committed by his relative or acquaintance even though he might not be knowing what his relative is doing?

“How can his character come under blemish if one of his relatives or acquaintances do not posses acceptable behaviour or character?” PC spokesperson asked.

He termed the order not only “unjust, illegal and unfair but also unconstitutional, unethical and reprehensible”.

He added that the present administration must refrain from such “blatant misuse of power and ruthless erosion of democratic values”, and urged the government to rollback the order and not to cause an unnecessary stir within the administrative set-up of Jammu and Kashmir.

CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said the latest orders of the Jammu and Kashmir administration regarding termination of a government employee’s service for alleged involvement of their relatives in “terrorism and subversion” and mandating vigilance clearance for getting passports were arbitrary decisions that are not good in a democracy.

“A government employee is a tool to implement policies of the government. If the same employee is made a suspect by doubting him and putting him in the basket of suspicion repeatedly, it will adversely affect his working and in turn affect overall functioning of the government,” Tarigami said in a statement.

He said there was already a procedure laid down to deal with any employee involved in anti-national, subversive activities and issuing new orders only created an atmosphere of suspicion.

“It seems, because of some ill advice, the J&K administration is resorting to such an unwarranted course of targeting its employees and thereby putting them under constant fear. If an employee is violating the law, he must be dealt with according to the already laid down procedures, but this type of an arbitrary approach is not good in a democracy,” the former MLA added.

Tarigami said denying anyone a passport based on a vigilance case cannot be a substitute for being found guilty in a court of law.

“One of the most sacred principles of the justice system is that a person is innocent until proven guilty. How can the government deny a passport to an employee on mere registration of a case by vigilance?” he asked.

“The authoritarian orders issued by the administration are against the interests of the people of all the regions and communities. Instead of issuing such orders, the government must ensure that the rights of the people and their livelihood are protected,” the Communist leader added.

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