Ethics is a set of principles of right conduct. It has been defined as a set of values and principles which helps guide behaviour, choice and actions. It helps to decide whether ones’ actions are right or wrong. Organizations as well as individuals have ethical standards. These standards help ensure that individuals belonging to an organization have a consistent approach in carrying out their responsibilities and making decisions. They also ensure that members of an organization maintain a consistent and appropriate behaviour towards one another and towards clients and persons outside the organization.
Civil servants have special obligations because they are responsible for managing resources entrusted to them by the community, because they provide and deliver services to the community and because they take important decisions that affect all aspects of a community’s life. The community has a right to expect that the civil service functions fairly, impartially and efficiently. It is essential that the community must be able to trust and have confidence in the integrity of the civil service decision-making process. Within the civil service itself, it needs to be ensured that the decisions and actions of civil servants reflect the policies of the government of the day and the standards that the community expects from
them as government servants, he expectation that the civil service will maintain the same standards of professionalism, responsiveness and impartiality in serving successive political governments is a key element of the way our democratic polity functions. In a democracy, an efficient civil service must have a set of values that distinguishes it from other professions. Integrity, dedication to public service, impartiality, political neutrali
ty, anonymity etc are said to be the hallmarks of an efficient civil service.
In India, the current set of ethical norms are the Conduct Rules, contained in the Central Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964 and analogous rules applicable to members of the All India Services or employees of various State Governments. The code of behaviour as enunciated in the Conduct Rules, while containing some general norms like ‘maintaining integrity and absolute devotion to duty’ and not indulging in ‘conduct unbecoming of a government servant’ is generally directed towards cataloguing specific activities deemed undesirable for government servants. These conduct rules do not constitute a code of ethics.
SECOND ARC RECOMMENDATIONS ON CODE OF CONDUCT FOR CIVIL SERVANTS
Code of Ethics : The following should be included in the Code of Ethics for civil servants:
- 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.
- Impartiality: Civil servants in carrying out their official work, including functions like procurement, recruitment, delivery of services etc, should take decisions based on merit and free from any partisan consideration.
- Commitment to public service: civil servants should deliver services in a fair, effective, impartial and courteous manner.
- Open accountability: civil servants are accountable for their decisions and actions and should be willing to subject themselves to appropriate scrutiny for this purpose.
- Devotion to duty: civil servants should maintain absolute and unstinting devotion towards their duties and responsibilities at all times.
- Exemplary behaviour: civil servants should 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.
It has also recommended
- There is a need to safeguard the political neutrality and impartiality of the civil services. The onus for this lies equally on the political executive and the civil services. This aspect should be included in the Code of Ethics for Ministers as well as the Code of Conduct for Public Servants.
- The Commission has reiterated its recommendation made in its Report on “Ethics in Governance” while examining the definition of corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, wherein it has been recommended that “abuse of authority unduly favouring or harming someone” and “obstruction of justice” should be classified as an offence under the Act.