A building of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. Photo: main.tifr.res.in
New Delhi: The registrar of Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) has asked its employees and their families to not upload content which might be deemed “anti-government”.
Scroll.in reported that the registrar, retired Wing Commander George Antony, had penned a letter to this effect on April 13.
The letter said TIFR had been informed by the Department of Atomic Energy that Central agencies had noticed that DAE employees had been posting photos and videos of offices and facilities on social media.
TIFR is a national centre of the Union government that functions under the umbrella of the Department of Atomic Energy. It is also a deemed university and undertakes research in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, computer science and science education.
Its main campus is located in Mumbai, with centres at Pune, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
“It has also been noticed that certain disgruntled employees have been sharing Anti-Government content over social media,” the letter says, adding that these have been “red-flagged by the agencies and the department.”
Antony’s letter thus discouraged employees and families from sharing photos and videos of the institute, its centres, field stations, residential areas “or any other government property”, citing “serious security consequences”.
Notably, the institute’s own website has several photographs of the campus and research facilities inside.
In its penultimate line, the letter adds, “Staff members are further informed to desist from uploading any anti-government content over social media” and that their families should be informed of the same as well.
The letter does not go into why anti-government content on social media is banned.
In March 2022, The Wire had reported that Bennett University, owned by the Times Group, had instructed its students and their parents to sign an undertaking that they would not participate, support or promote any type of “anti-national” or “anti-social activity” within or outside the campus.
In June 2019, the Uttar Pradesh government issued an ordinance that made it mandatory for new and existing private universities to give an undertaking that they would not be involved in “anti-national activity”.
Scientists working at government facilities are by law not allowed to speak up against government policies by the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964 – a.k.a. the CCS Rules.
However, in 2015, the Allahabad high court ruled in the matter of Dr Sumita Mitra v. Union of India and Others that “professors of [a] university are neither members of a service nor do they hold a civil post under the union, nor are they in the service of local or other authority. CCS (CCA) Rules, would therefore, have no application to a central university”.