Civil servants told to stay away from media
PESHAWAR, March 25: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani may speak about freedom of the press in his inaugural speech in the parliament, but here in the NWFP government officers have been restricted from leaking official information to the press.
“I am directed to refer to … and to state that Rule 38 of the NWFP Government Rules of Business, 1985 provides that no information required directly or indirectly from official documents or relating to official matters, shall be communicated by Government Servants to the press,” said a circular issued by the provincial establishment and administration department NWFP to government departments.
Citing sub rule (a) of Rule-67 of the NWFP Manual of Secretariat Instructions, 1989, the circular said all papers received or dealt with in the secretariat were of confidential nature and their contents should not be disclosed to or discussed with any unauthorised person.
It said any breach of the rules was punishable with imprisonment under section 5 of the Official Secret Act, 1923. It also prohibited communication with unauthorised government officials.
Quoting rule 21 of the NWFP Civil Servants (Conduct) Rules, 1987, the circular said no communication could be made directly or indirectly of official information or contents of official documents to a government servant not authorised to receive it or to non-official person or to the press.
Â“However, instances have come to notice, that classified information and reports from the government offices and intelligence agencies have been leaked out and disclosed to unauthorised individuals which can cause serious consequences and embarrassment to the Government,” the communication said, a copy of which is available with Dawn.
What prompted the establishment department to issue such a circular is not clear, but it does refer to an inquiry held against an officer for disclosing information apparently to a local reporter.
“It is ironical that the government will need to issue such a circular when no secret information has been leaked and whatever that has come into the press relates to public interest and in fact should be made public before it becomes a law to encourage healthy debate.