In a dramatic turn of events, former DGP and Vigilance Chief Jacob Thomas called off the book release event of his autobiography on Monday.
The book titled 'Sravukelku Opam Neenthumpol' (Swimming with the sharks) was to be released in Thiruvananthapuram press club at 5pm on Monday, but was called off at the eleventh hour, after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the chief guest at the event backed off.
By authoring a non-fiction book while in service, did the top police official violate more than one protocol?
The CM's decision is said to be in response to a letter from Congress MLA KC Joseph, who alleged that the government has not given permission to Jacob Thomas to author the book. And by doing so, the officer's act was in violation of the Official Secrets Act, the MLA pointed out.
Meanwhile, The Police Forces (Restriction of Rights) Act, 1996 lays down certain restrictions on the rights of those members of the force, who are charged with maintenance of public order. This is to ensure "proper discharge of duties and maintenance of discipline among them," the Act says.
Section 3 of the Act talks about restrictions respecting right to form association and freedom of speech. Clause 1(c) of section 3 states:
(1) No member of a police force shall without the express sanction of the Central government or of the prescribed authority, -
(c) Communicate with the press, or publish or cause to be published any book, letter, or other document except which such communication or publication is in the bonafide discharge of his duties or is of a purely literary, artistic of scientific character or is of a prescribed nature.
Speaking to TNM, MLA Joseph said:
"A police officer needs explicit clearance for releasing a book as per clause 1, 3 c of the Police Force Restriction of Rights Act 1966. Also, a police officer needs prior sanction from the government for writing a book. I met the Chief Minister in the morning to ask whether Jacob Thomas had sought permission from the government. He said he will examine it. Now from the news reports I came to know that the book release has been canceled."
â€śAlso, it is not fair for an officer to make things in official records public. Jacob Thomas was VACB director. Just imagine the impact if he publishes the information regarding various cases he accessed from the post. If all police officers start writing about things they get to know during the course of their job, what will happen? Police officers especially senior officers like Jacob Thomas are bound to obey the rule,â€ť he added.