Ban on photography at public offices: Facing outrage, Bommai Government revokes decision last midnight

Ban on photography at public offices: Facing outrage, Bommai Government revokes decision last midnight

July 16, 2022

Bengaluru: A day after announcing a ban on all kinds of photography and videography inside public (Government) offices in Karnataka, the State Government has now revoked its decision after facing sharp criticism from the Opposition, social media influencers, general public and BJP members.

In a decision taken late on Friday night intervening Saturday, the ban has now been voided. The order was, however, withdrawn without citing any reasons and it was made public at 2 am on Saturday (July 16).

Earlier on Friday, a circular issued by the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) stated that the public will not be allowed to take pictures or film videos in the State Government offices.

As per the order, the decision was taken on the basis of a petition filed by the Karnataka State Government Employees Association wherein it alleged that people are trying to shoot videos inside offices with the intent of harassing and defaming the officials.

Keeping this in check, the worker’s unions had requested to ban photography and videography to avoid any kind of “misuse” of the visuals and pictures that would hamper the reputation of the Government as well as some “female employees.”

The order signed by the Under-Secretary of DPAR stated: “The Government has taken the matter into account and deemed that it was required and has ordered that the public will be restricted to take photos and videos in all Departmental offices.” It is pertinent to note that the DPAR portfolio is held by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai.

Following the circular, the Bommai Government faced heavy backlash from the Opposition as well as the public. Several Opposition leaders claimed that the decision was taken to shield ‘corruption’ from the public eye and further provide protection to such Government employees.

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Reacting to the same, Opposition Leader Siddaramaiah strongly opposed the move claiming that the Government is ‘scared’ and aims to hide its corruption. Similarly, the Karnataka Rashtra Samiti — whose videos filming corrupt officers and Policemen went viral — also took a dig at the Government and said that it is trying to use a “draconian and anti-people rule.”

Past bans and withdrawals

In July 2021, the Government issued an order banning media persons from filming or photographing the corridors of Vidhana Soudha as this was coming in the way of the VIP movement. The order was withdrawn following outrage.

In September 2019, guidelines were issued saying only 150 journalists chosen by the Government will be allowed to enter the Vidhana Soudha, the Vikas Soudha and the Multistorey Building. This was also put on hold following backlash.

In July 2018, the Police imposed curbs on visitors and media personnel as directed by the then CM H.D. Kumaraswamy. The same year, the Government was forced to withdraw a circular that restricted the entry of journalists to the third floor of Vidhana Soudha where the CM and other Ministers sit.


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