Both serving and former bureaucrats said the amended pension rules, which make it mandatory for retired officers of intelligence and security organisations to seek prior permission for writing or speaking on the domain of their former organisation, could have been made less “harsh” by having a time bar, say of 10 years after retirement, rather than making them applicable for life.
A former RAW chief and an ex-home secretary, both reluctant to be named, said while it was a standard practice for intelligence officials of foreign agencies to be barred for a reasonable period after retirement from writing or talking about their experiences and sharing the domain knowledge they gained while working for their former organisations, the amended CCS (Pension) Rules seem to have “taken things a bit too far” by imposing restrictions for the remaining part of a retired officer’s life.
AS Dulat, who served in RAW and IB and later authored a couple of books, said, “Apply the rule for two years, five years, 10 years or even 20 years after retirement, but not forever.” He said the term ‘domain of the organisation’ was vague. “Who will define what constitutes the domain of an organisation?” he asked. He said the adverse feedback may eventually lead government to modify rules to provide for a “fixed time limitation post-retirement” and also specify what constitutes the “domain of the organisation”. He said the head of an intelligence or security organisation was a busy person and couldn’t be expected to spend time reading manuscripts. “Clearances could take forever,” he told TOI.
KM Singh, an ex-IB official, said the rules were “draconian” as they would keep highly experienced officers from sharing good practices and domain knowledge with future generations. Dulat agreed, citing the example of former NSA and IB chief MK Narayanan, who often writes for newspapers. “Given his wide experience, everybody looks up to him. Why should he need prior nod?” he asked.
Singh was apprehensive that even if clearance was given, much of the content may be omitted or censored. The ‘prior nod’ rule is now applicable to even officers of central police organisations like BSF, ITBP etc.