Administrative Ethics: Code of Conduct & Ethics for Civil Servants

Why do we need a Code of Conduct & Code of Ethics for Civil Servants?

Ethics is a set of principles of right conduct. It has been defined as a set of values and principles, which helps guide behavior, choice and actions.Organizations as well as individuals have ethical standards
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

Section B: 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 organization in a way that Contributes to the welfare of its key stakeholders & Respects the rights of all constituents affected by its operations. In India, the current set of ethical norms are the Conduct Rules, contained in the Central Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964

Different Committees:

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

2) Hota Committee Report, 2004:

3) Second Administrative Reforms Commission: 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.

Section D: Code of Ethics for Civil Servants

1) Code of Ethics, 1997 – It was the first initiative to introduce the code of ethics for public servants in India, which was considered a step towards better governance The code was considered by a group of ministers but was not issued as code of ethics for public servants unfortunately.

2) Draft Public Service Bill, 2007– Again in 2007 Department of personnel drafted Public Service Bill. It extends to the whole of India & state. It envisages a moral behavior from the civil servants & enumerates certain values which should guide the Public Servants in the discharge of their functions which are as follows:

  1. Allegiance to the Constitution and the law, democracy, nationalism, sovereignty & integrity of India and the security of the nation
  2. Function in apolitical manner, act objectively, impartially, honestly, equitably, and in a fair and just manner
  1. Act with integrity and in a courteous and just manner.
  2. Establish high standards, and ensure quality service, effective working and prompt decision making.
  1. Be accountable for the decisions
  1. Establish merit as the fundamental principle in employment, promotion and placements
  1. Discharge functions with due regard to diversity of the nation/community and religion but without discrimination of caste, community, religion, gender or class and duly protecting the interest of poor, underprivileged and weaker sections.
  1. Provide honest, impartial and frank advice to political executive.
  1. Ensure that public money is used with utmost economy and care .
  2. The public servant function with the objective that Public Services and Public Servants are to serve as instruments of good governance and to provide services for the betterment of the public at large; foster socio-economic development, with due regard to the diversity of the nation but without discrimination on the ground of caste, community, religion, gender or class and duly protecting the interest of poor, underprivileged and weaker sections.
  3. Without prejudice to the provisions of this Act, the Central Government may, on the recommendations of or in consultation with the Central Authority, notify from time to time other values in this Section.

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.”

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