Allahabad HC Raises Concerns Over Government Officials Speaking Freely to Media, Seeks Clarification on Service Rules

Allahabad HC questions if govt. servants can speak to media freely. Justice Munir asks State for clarity in Adarsh Kumar vs. State of UP & 5 Others.

The Allahabad High Court recently addressed the growing trend of government officials, including those in central services, freely speaking to the media. In the case of Adarsh Kumar vs. State of UP & 5 Others, Justice JJ Munir raised concerns about this practice.

The court, while hearing a petition filed by a government employee challenging departmental proceedings against him, refrained from commenting on the content of the petitioner's statements to the media. However, it highlighted the prevalent trend among government officers.

"This Court notices that there is a general trend amongst government servants of the present day of all ranks, including those in the Central Services serving the State cadre, of casually and freely speaking to the media. The District Collectors and the District Superintendent of Police are freely seen speaking and interacting with media. Likewise, is the case with government servants employed in connection with the affairs of the State and those serving further down in the hierarchy," remarked the single judge.

Justice Munir pointed out that unless there has been a change in conduct rules, government servants should not have the freedom to interact with the media independently. One of the reasons cited for restricting such interactions was to avoid conflicting statements from government officials on the same issue.

"The State must speak through an authorized spokesperson, maybe someone from the public relation department or a designated officer from the particular establishment or department," emphasized the Court.

The Court directed the Additional Chief Secretary of the Department of Personnel to provide information on whether there is any prohibition against government servants speaking to the media under service rules. Additionally, the court sought details on the steps taken to train younger government servants to refrain from impromptu interactions with the media, if such prohibitions exist.

The matter was scheduled for further consideration on May 3, with the Court asking the Additional Chief Secretary to file an affidavit within a week providing the requested information.

Advocate Anubhav Srivastava represented the petitioner in the case.