Saturday July 02, 2022

NTDC issues gag order on whistleblowing

April 26, 2022

LAHORE: The National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) has issued yet another stern warning to its employees over whistleblowing, strictly barring them from disclosing information through digital or conventional means of communication.

General Manager, Human Resources, NTDC in a letter dated April 23, 2022 titled “Secrecy of Official Confidential or Secret Documents / Information and Use of Press or any Media Platform by NTDC Employees”, strictly prohibited employees from sharing official information.

This would be the second such communication issued by the NTDC management, which cautioned staff against indulging in whistleblowing against its own alleged corruption amounting to billions of rupees. Earlier, on November 24, 2021, the utility through an official memo titled “handling anonymous, pseudonymous complaints” asked all its formations to dispose of any such complaints.

In the latest warning, while referring to the instructions contained in Chapter-10, Section-1 of compendium of important directives / office orders issued by Wapda Authority and clause Nos 16 to 27 of Wapda Conduct Rules 1978 adopted by NTDC and instructions issued on the subject from time to time, it has been stated that it was the duty of every NTDC employee to safeguard the official documents / information entrusted to him / her.

“No employee can communicate directly or indirectly any information or the contents of an official document to any employee not authorised to receive it or to a non-official person or to the press or electronic media etc,” it adds.

Further, such rules refrain company employees from making any statement of fact or opinion which is capable of embarrassing the government/ NTDC management in any document published or in any communication made to the press or in any public utterance or television programme or radio broadcast delivered by him or her.

These rules also bar employees from expressing views against ideology and integrity of Pakistan or any government / NTDC policy or decision. Employees have also been barred from offering views on any media platform, which might either harm the national security or friendly relations with foreign states; or offend public order, decency or morality: or amount to contempt of court or defamation or incitement to an offence: or propagate sectarian creeds.

The letter said that some NTDC employees engage with social media or any other unauthorised activities and sometimes indulge in actions or behavior that does not conform to the required standards of official conduct, as envisaged in the rules. Such actions range from unauthorised relaying of the official information to disseminating wrong or misleading information to airing of political or sectarian views or leakage of secret confidential information etc.

It said that the instructions were applicable to all NTDC employees and would apply to use of social media by them. The letter reiterated that the employees should not indulge in unauthorised disclosure of official information or sharing of official documents via press, electronic / social media or any other method of disseminating information.

Employees were ordered not to participate in any discussion on media / social media or exchange or forward information or messages that express their opinion on political issues. They should not participate in furthering of any information especially pertaining to government / company matters that appears to be unauthentic and misleading.

The NTDC asked employees not to make any disparaging remarks aimed at any individual or group or sect or faith and to uphold values guiding the company service at all times. They were also advised to observe discretion and moderation in use of social media and uphold high standards of propriety.

Further, they were ordered not to approach any member of the national assembly or provincial assembly or any other non-official person, to intervene on his / her behalf, in any matter. They should not address any representation direct to the president of Pakistan senior officers of the government.

All NTDC employees are required to comply with the above instructions in letter and spirit. These may, therefore, be circulated to all the departments working under their administrative control.

Violation of one or more of these instructions would invite disciplinary action against the delinquent NTDC employee under Pakistan Wapda E&D Rules 1978.

Further, in case of a violation committed on a group platform, the ‘administrators’ or the ‘admin’. If they are NTDC employees, shall also be liable to the disciplinary proceedings.

While reacting to the latest warning to employees by the NTDC top management, an official on condition of anonymity said “whistleblowing about corruption has been prohibited by the company and Efficiency and Discipline (E&D) Rules are made liable”, but other rules regarding corruption, irregularities, favouritism and out of merit policy etc remained silent and were not applied in NTDC.