Code of Ethics for Civil Servants in India

Code of Ethics for Civil Servants in India

Code of Ethics are adopted by organizations (both public as well as private) to assist members in understanding the difference between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and in applying this understanding to their decisions.

Defintion of Code of Ethics:

Code of Ethics is a set of guidelines issued by an organization to its employees to guide them  to conduct their actions in accordance with its primary values and ethical standards.

Code of Ethics for Civil Servants in India

In India, there is no Code of Ethics prescribed for civil servants. Instead, we have several Conduct Rules which prohibit a set of common activities. These Conduct Rules do serve a purpose, but they do not constitute a Code of Ethics. However, there has been some positive development on this, as under:

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 extended to the whole of India & state. The bill envisaged moral behaviour from the civil servants & enumerated certain values which should guide the Public Servants in the discharge of their functions which are as follows:

  • (a) patriotism and upholding national pride;
  • (b) allegiance to the Constitution and the law of the nation;
  • (c) objectivity, impartiality, honesty, diligence, courtesy and transparency;
  • (d) maintain absolute integrity.

The bill also set out a basic set of code for public servants:

  • (i) to discharge official duties with competence and accountability; care and diligence; responsibility, honesty, objectivity and impartiality; without discrimination and in accordance with the law;
  • (ii) to ensure effective management, professional growth and leadership development;
  • (iii) to avoid misuse of official position or information and using the public moneys with utmost care and economy; and
  • (iv) 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.

The bill is still under consideration.

Way Ahead:

Code of Ethics are important for all segments of the bureaucracy and, equally so, for all local bodies and their employees. The 2nd ARC recommended that there should be a set of Public Service Values which should be stipulated by law. Additionally, there should be a mechanism to ensure that civil servants constantly aspire towards these values.

Conflict of interest should be comprehensively covered in the Code of Ethics and in the Code of Conduct for officers. Also, serving officials should not be nominated on the Boards of Public undertakings.

References:

  1. 2nd ARC Report 
  2. Public Service Bill, 2007