Code of Conduct for Civil Servants

A code of conduct is a set of rules & regulations that outline the standards, responsibilities, proper practices for, an individual, party or organisation. The code of conduct for civil servants specifies the clear principles as to what the Government expects from its employees. It should be noted that code of conduct rules apply to both official AND personal life of the civil servants.

Definition: Code of Conduct for Civil Servants

Code of Conduct is principles, values, standards, or rules of behavior that guide the decisions, procedures and systems of an organisation in a way that Contributes to the welfare of its key stakeholders & Respects the rights of all constituents affected by its operations.

Importance of Code of Conduct for Civil Servants

1. Ensure   – consistent approach   – responsibilities and making decisions
2. Civil servants — special obligations — responsible for managing resources entrusted to them by the community
3. To work as per the guidelines enhances the efficiency of the democratic system

Committees on Code of Conduct for Civil Servants in India

1) Committee on Prevention of Corruption (Santhanam Committee), 1964:

The Santhanam Committee recommended a set of Conduct Rules. Salient features of recommendations:

  • Conduct Rules, particularly those relating to integrity, should be uniform.
  • Suggested that values like altruism and empathy for the poor, are hard to imbibe after joining the services. These need to be instilled in childhood through various institutions like family, school etc.

2) Hota Committee Report, 2004:

  • Code of Ethics should be laid down for the civil servants to imbue the values of integrity, merit & excellence in public service.

3) Second Administrative Reforms Commission: 

The Second Administrative Reforms Commission in its 10th report pertaining to Values & Ethics of Civil Services in India recommended drafting a Bill on ethics to give code of ethics a statutory basis in the form of “The Civil Services Bill”. The commission recommended that in addition to upholding the constitutional spirit the civil servants shall be guided by the following values:

  • Adherence to the highest standards of integrity & conduct
  • Impartiality & non-partisanship
  • Objectivity
  • Dedication to public service
  • Empathy & compassion towards the weaker sections

Seven principles of public life enunciated by the Nolan Committee in UK. Drawing from these, the Commission has suggested the inclusion of the following principles in the Code of Ethics for civil servants in India:

  1. Integrity: Civil servants should be guided solely by public interest in their official decision making and not by any financial or other consideration either in respect of themselves, their families or their friends.
  1. Impartiality: Civil servants in carrying out their official work, including functions like procurement, recruitment, delivery of services etc, should take decisions based on merit alone.
  1. Commitment to public service: Civil servants should deliver services in a fair, effective, impartial and courteous manner.
  1. Open accountability: Civil servants are accountable for their decisions and actions and should be willing to subject themselves to appropriate scrutiny for this purpose.
  2. Devotion to duty: Civil servants maintain absolute and unstinting devotion towards their duties and responsibilities at all times.
  1. Exemplary behaviour: Civil servants shall treat all members of the public with respect and courtesy and, at all times, should behave in a manner that upholds the rich traditions of the civil services.

Rules for Code of Conduct for Civil Servants in India:

United Nations has formulated a ‘Code of Conduct’ for public officials by its resolution 58/4 of 31st Oct. 2003. The code of conduct states that “Each State party shall promote, interalia, integrity, honesty, and responsibility among its public officials in accordance with the fundamental principles of its legal system.”

In India, the current set of ethical norms are the Conduct Rules, contained in the:

  • Central Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964
  • The All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968
  • All India Services (Conduct) Amendment Rules, 2014.

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