In a move to restrict “leaks”, Uttarakhand government bans the entry of media persons in offices

In an attempt to prevent the “leaks” of “confidential information” the Uttarakhand government has taken steps to bar the entry of “unauthorized persons/reporters” into government offices.

In a three page order dated 27th of December, Uttarakhand Chief Secretary Utpal Kumar Singh has said that entry of unauthorised persons are prohibited, he says, “Entry of unauthorised persons/ reporters to the sections/ offices (of government departments) must be completely prohibited”.

Adding further he said, “Any visitor who is visiting a government office for personal work will not be allowed to meet any government official or any member of the office staff in the office premises,” says the order, adding that in case of “important matters”, the government official can meet the visitor “at the office reception”.

The order specifically mentions that the agenda of cabinet meetings have been leaked to the media in the past. “Publishing of the issues/ proposals meant for the cabinet, prior to the cabinet meeting is absolutely unfortunate and objectionable. It affects the decision to be taken by the cabinet… The cabinet has expressed regret and objection towards the disregard (by government officials) of instructions already in place,” it says.

“If any subject/ proposal meant for the cabinet does get published in the newspapers/ media prior to the cabinet meeting, then the additional secretary/ principal secretary/ secretary/ secretary in-charge of the concerned department will immediately probe the cause of the leak (and will inform the chief secretary),” says the order.

Referring to an earlier government order dated August 16, 2010, regarding publication of information related to cabinet meetings, it adds, “it has come to our notice that government departments have not been following the instructions laid out for disseminating information to the media.”

Speaking to media persons Utpal Kumar Singh said, “There’s some confusion regarding the order that mentioned that entry of unauthorised persons/ reporters to our section offices would be prohibited. I wish to clarify that the Uttarakhand government is committed to disseminating correct and authentic information to media persons, for which it is important that we form a proper means of disseminating information to the media.”

He further says, “We want to give you authentic information in an orderly fashion. We don’t want you to work unnecessarily”.

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