Intelligence services’ pension under the legal microscope

Prior to the Central Civil Services (Pension) Amendment Rules, 2020, Rule 8 pertaining to “pension subject to future good conduct” was first amended in 2008 which forbid publishing any material that affects the “sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, or relation with a foreign State or which would lead to incitement of an offence”.

The Centre has been on the receiving end of some severe flak from the retirees of Intelligence and Security services. On 31st of May, amendments to the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules 1972 were notified. It prohibited the pensioners of the said services to publish any information related to their organisation without prior permission and clearance, failing which would amount to misconduct and thereafter forfeiture of pension. These are the instances of the eroding system of checks & balances and intrusion of freedom of speech. To one’s utter dismay the rules are applied retrospectively and the catastrophic repercussions of such tyrannical regulations are bound to follow.

Prior to the Central Civil Services (Pension) Amendment Rules, 2020, Rule 8 pertaining to “pension subject to future good conduct” was first amended in 2008 which forbid publishing any material that affects the “sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, or relation with a foreign State or which would lead to incitement of an offence”. However, under the new amended rule, the scope is enlarged to include information relating to the “domain of the organisation, any reference or information about any personnel and his designation, and expertise or knowledge gained by virtue of working in that organisation”. So far, the rules have irked almost all the constitutional watchdogs. At this juncture few questions loom large- What prompted the action? Who is now accountable for a transparent governance? And is this the beginning of autocracy?


Rule 8 (1) (b) of Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, permits the appointing authority to withhold or withdraw a pension “if the pensioner is convicted of a serious crime or is found guilty of grave misconduct”. “The expression `grave misconduct’ includes the communication or disclosure of any secret official code or password or any sketch, plan, model, article, note, document or information, such as is mentioned in Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923) (which was obtained while holding office under the Government) so as to prejudicially affect the interests of the general public or the security of the State.”

With the Official secrets Act,1923 already in place which penalises wrongful communication of information, the new amendments are completely uncalled for. Section 5 of the said act explicitly prohibits disclosure of any information which is likely to affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, or has a contract made with regards to non-disclosure. Any official who-

1. Wilfully communicates other than as authorised to as duty or at the disposal of Court of Justice, or

2. Uses the information prejudicial to the safety of the country or benefit of a foreign country or,

3. Retains any document contrary to his duty or fails to comply with the directions to the return or,

4. Fails to take reasonable care for the safety of the document or information

will be guilty of offence under the act. Any communication in contravention of the act is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

The archaic Official Secrets Act which is vulnerable to misrepresentation, has been misused on many occasions to button the lips of the naysayers, especially journalists. This time it has preyed on the ex-guardians of the Indian soul. An article published in The Hindu exemplified the cases of Tarakant Dwivedi, Iftikhar Gilani and Santanu Saikia, who were booked in the name of national security breach for writing or downloading documents but ultimately resulted in dropping of charges against them.

Rule 8(3)(a) requires the retired officials to sign an undertaking – Form 26 – and declare that without the prior approval of the competent authority they will not publish any information related to the “domain of the organisation and obtained by virtue of my working in the said organisation. A total of 26 organisations included under 2nd schedule of RTI Act are covered by these rules including the IB, R&AW, ED, CSRF, et al. These rules are decried for their brazen violation of the constitutional mandate of equality for excluding their other counter parts like IAS, IFS, etc.


Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG) is an online forum where group of “nonpartisan” former civil servants express their concern and disapproval over the developments non-aligned with the Constitutional ethos. The critical attention drawn towards some incongruous administrative policies by these former officials might not have not gone down well with the Government. Union housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri, a former diplomat himself, even went to an extent to publicly slam the CCG group calling them “educated fools” and “disgrace”. Persecution of the centre towards its civil servants, regardless their ranks can be discerned from the instance of Alapan Bandhyopadhyay issue in West Bengal. The said Chief Secretary to the West Bengal Government was served a show cause notice, hours before his retirement, in the name of non-compliance of official orders really paints an autocratic picture. An anonymous former official also told The Wire that “…the government is not keen to see the ranks of its critics swelled by fresh retirees eager to speak out”. The rules are being called gag and vague intended to browbeat the gadflies.


The words, “future misconduct”, carry different connotations from different perspectives. Matters as trivial as writing an article can be perceived as “misconduct” consequently resulting in forfeiture of pension. It is not the pecuniary loss but the public humiliation and bruised pride of the dignitaries that should be regarded. A highbrow who has served the nation cannot be expected to send his writings to receive prior assessment, it makes expert comments a distant dream. Pension are not in the nature of reward but they are a binding obligation on Government and a can be claimed as of right. Withholding or withdrawal of pension of public servants leads to malefaction. Given the credentials of these secret services officials, they should be regarded as flagbearer of honesty living a life away from corrupt practices. The very vibe of autocracy can be perceived from these new directions. Obviating from dissemination of know-how by a trained and experienced an official dim the light of enthusiasm amongst the youth willing to build their careers in the field. Not only the letters like CCG, but also several books and articles are written by the former officials to bring to limelight their experiences and policy faux pas of the government.

A magnum opus like our Indian Constitution adulating democracy and officials who worked hard to hang up the shingles of truth ensure a true transparent governance with pen as their weapon. It is immensely contemptible of how they are treated for exercising their legit constitutional right to freedom of speech and dissemination of worthwhile information.

One of the very first cases referred to Project Monitoring Group by the Prime Minister’s Office was related to an investment of about Rs 2,000 crore that had been made around the Delhi airport to set up an Aero-City that housed a number of hotels.