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Kiran Bedi Declares Puducherry Govt's Circular on Social Media 'Null and Void'

Puducherry: In an escalation of differences between Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi and the ruling Congress party, the former on Thursday declared as “null and void” the circular issued by Chief Minister V Narayanasamy banning the use of social media for official communication.

Bedi also posted a copy of her order on her personal Twitter handle declaring the government circular null and void with immediate effect on the ground that it was issued “in contravention of guidelines, rules and policies of the government”.

She tweeted, “If Puducherry has to be a progressive Union Territory it cannot be retrograde in communications. Hence @CM_Puducherry’s order stands cancelled: @PMOIndia (sic).”

Narayanasamy had issued the circular even as Bedi was pushing with her plan to promote WhatsApp communication by officials.

The government circular dated January 2 had said the chief minister had directed all the officers, heads of departments and employees of government-owned undertakings to immediately desist from using the social media such as Twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook.

It had added that the servers of these multi-national companies were based outside the country.

“Any foreign country can get access to these official communications and documents uploaded which is a violation of the Official Secrets Act and also against the guidelines issued by Union Information Technology Ministry,” it had said.

Bedi has been camping in Delhi for the last few days during which she has met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and a few other Union ministers.

She had recently created a WhatsApp group for exchange of information and details of implementation of various government schemes. An Officer on Special Duty at Raj Nivas is the administrator of the group.

The government’s circular was seen as a counter to Bedi suspending a Puducherry Civil Service officer for posting an “obscene” video clip on the WhatsApp group.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission has stayed Bedi’s December 30 order suspending the Registrar of Cooperative Societies, AS Sivakumar, an official told PTI.

Sivakumar was appointed by the EC as Electoral Registration Officer for three Assembly seats in Puducherry.

The official said Sivakumar resumed duty as Registrar of Cooperative Societies after his suspension order was stayed.

He added that a letter issued by the EC to the Puducherry government said Sivakumar, in his capacity as Electoral Registration Officer (ERO), “is subject to control, superintendence and discipline of the ECI under section 13CC of the Representation of People Act, 1950”.

It also pointed out that “the Lt Governor ought to have taken the commission into confidence and consulted it before placing him under suspension”.