The Maharashtra government has sought an explanation from a top IAS officer who wrote an article on last month’s massive farmers agitation for a leading Marathi newspaper, a RTI reply revealed here on Saturday. The IAS officer, Rajagopal Devara, found himself in a cleft stick after penning a commentary on the statewide farmers’ agitation titled, ‘Shetkari Ekjuticha Vijay’ on June 25 in leading Marathi daily ‘Lokasatta’ of The Indian Express Group, said RTI activist Anil Galgali.”I had sought information on the number of IAS officers who have been given specific permission for writing articles/columns in the media. The government has informed that it has sought a ‘clarification’ from Devara, as this (above) article was written and published without permission,” Galgali said.
The official reply to the RTI query said that in the five-year period between July 2012-June 2017, only three IAS officers have been granted permission by the government to write articles or editorials for the media. They include Under Secretary to the Governor Parimal Singh who was permitted to write an article on July 10, 2014 on ‘Maharashtra State PESA Rules’ for a semi-government quarterly publication ‘Hakara’ and Principal Secretary (Finance) Vijay Kumar was given the green signal to write a commentary on January 14, 2016 on ‘Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2015’.Incidentally, Devara – when he was the Tribal Department Secretary, was granted permission to write a piece on August 31, 2016, on ‘Agriculture Credit, Marketing, Cooperative Credit, Agriculture Finance Policies, Marketing Reform and other Agrorelated Issues’, but not for his article on farmers issues in ‘Lokasatta’.
Galgali said that every bureaucrat is mandated to seek government permission every time they want to write columns, editorials or express their views in the media, or could face action under the All India Services Law (Behaviour), 1968, rules under Sec. 6 & 7.