The Centre’s amendment to pension rules for civil servants, prohibiting retired officials of intelligence security organisations from publishing anything pertaining to their workplace, including information relating to their experience and expertise, without clearance from the head, has rattled the security community with many calling it a virtual gag order and “retrogressive.”
Notifying the Central Civil Services (Pension) Amendment Rules, 2020,, the Department of Personnel and Training introduced this condition as a substitute clause in rules on pension subject to future good conduct.
This amendment to Rule 8 means that pension can be withheld or withdrawn if the pensioner disobeys the rules – the retired official will have to sign an undertaking to this effect.
This is likely to impact retired officials of security and intelligence organisations who write in the press or author books on their former organisations and experiences. Amending the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules,1972, the DoPT brought in a clause putting these curbs on officers working in organisations exempt under the Right to Information Act.
These include Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, CBI, Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, DRDO and all Central Armed Police Forces such as the CRPF and BSF among others.
Former Indian Army Chief VP Malik, who led the force during the Kargil war, felt that this would be an eventual loss to the nation.
“The basic problem is not pension rules but that it will inhibit people from writing. Pension is only a threat, the major issue is should one be able to write about one’s experience or not. My worry is that if you are not permitting people who retire from services to share their experience, how will anybody be able to pass expert comments and analyse a particular event and learn from those events…the country will be the loser,” Malik said.
Former BSF chief Prakash Singh, who has pushed for police reforms, said the new rules are overarching. “It is understandable to have some restrictions in matters of national security. But the wordings of the new rules seem to be overarching. If so necessary, a time frame of two-five years upon retirement could have been introduced. This is like a blanket ban,” Singh said.
Said former R&AW chief AS Dulat, who has written many books and regularly writes on Kashmir in the press: “If the government has issued such an order, I will follow it. What option do I have? But I would like them to be applied universally.”
A former RAW chief said: “Why do you want to jeopardise my pension? I am happily leading a retired life.” Said a former IB Director: “I am out of Delhi and unaware of what goes on in the Capital.” Most of the others said they were unable to comment. Some spoke on the condition that they not be named.
Said a former RAW chief: “The way the rule has been worded, even if I have to say that first RAW chief RN Kao was a great man, I will have to take permission from the current RAW chief.” A former CBI chief said this means that conduct rules of serving officers have been extended to their lifetime.
A former IB officer said the new rules give a handle to the government to punish anyone whose views it did not like. “If you see there is no procedure mentioned in the rules as to how the government would go about revoking pension in case of violation. So I say something in a seminar or conference and you freeze my pension. The government can harass you endlessly. Like officials, Ministers, too, are privy to secret files. What about them?” he said.
Sources in the government, however, defended the new rules. “In the past, a few intelligence and government officials have publicly expressed themselves revealing specific knowledge and sensitive information gained by virtue of having worked in that organisation. In order to bring clarity, these rules were issued,” a senior government official said.
“By no means do these rules deny any such former official from expressing his/her views. In fact, it makes it easier…they can now contact the Head of their former employer organisation and seek clarification on whether the proposed material is sensitive or non-sensitive,” he added.