Sindh govt bars officers from ‘unauthorised’ media appearances

Updated December 13, 2019

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The Sindh government has asked the heads of all its ministries and departments to ensure that no official representing them should make statements in the media reflecting the government’s policies without prior permission from the competent authority, it emerged on Thursday. — AFP/File
The Sindh government has asked the heads of all its ministries and departments to ensure that no official representing them should make statements in the media reflecting the government’s policies without prior permission from the competent authority, it emerged on Thursday. — AFP/File

KARACHI: The Sindh government has asked the heads of all its ministries and departments to ensure that no official representing them should make statements in the media reflecting the government’s policies without prior permission from the competent authority, it emerged on Thursday.

The provincial services, general administration and coordination department has sent a letter, issued on Tuesday, to various departments and administrative offices across Sindh that discusses the issue in clear terms.

“Certain government officers/civil servants have been seen taking part in television talk shows/programmes and [in which they are] tendering their opinion/views without prior authorisation of the respective competent authority, which is against the rules,” said the letter.

Sources in the provincial administration said the government took notice of the issue after it found that those government officials were not following instructions that had privately or officially been conveyed to them.

“In this regard,” said the communiqué, “attention is invited to Rule-56(I) of the Sindh Government Rules of Business 1986, which states that no government servant shall, unless generally or specially authorised in his behalf, communicate to the press, officials belonging to other government officers or any private individual, any information acquired directly or indirectly from official record or in the discharge of his official duties”.

It also quoted sub-rule (iv) of Rule-56 that further states that no person other than a minister, secretary or such other officer “may be authorised, shall act as official spokesman of [the] government”.

The communication also quoted Rule-22 of the Government Servants (Conduct) Rules, 1964 (rules governing the conduct of the federal government officers) and Rule-23 of the Sindh Civil Servants (Conduct) Rules, 2008, which “in essence say that no civil servant shall, in any document published, or in any public utterance or radio broadcast delivered, or in any television programme attended by him, make any statement of fact or opinion or act in a manner which is capable of embarrassing the central or any provincial government”.

“Rule-22 of the Sindh Civil Servants (Conduct) Rules, 2008, states that no civil servants shall, except with the previous sanction of the government, or any other authority empowered by it in this behalf, or in the bona fide discharge of his duties, participate in a radio broadcast or television programme, or contribute any article or write any letter either anonymously or in his own name or in any other name, to any newspaper or periodical,” said the letter.

It concluded that the competent authority “has taken serious view of this and has directed to bar all officers and officials from unauthorised appearance before media for opinion making”.

Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2019