Code of conduct
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 aff ect all aspects of a community’s life. Th ecommunity 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. The 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 neutrality, 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.
The Draft Public Services Bill, 2007 proposes the necessary fi rst step towards evolving a code of ethics. It states in Chapter III.
Values of Public Service: The Public Service and the Public Servants shall be guided by the following values in the discharge of their functions:
- patriotism and upholding national pride
- allegiance to the Constitution and the law of the nation
- objectivity, impartiality, honesty, diligence, courtesy and transparency
- maintain absolute integrity
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.
Review of Public Service Values: Th e Central Authority may from time to time review the adoption, adherence to and implementation of the Public Service Values in the departments or organizations under the Central Government and send reports to the Central Government.
Public Services Code
The Government shall promote the Public Service Values and a standard of ethics in the Public Service operations, requiring and facilitating every Public Service employee:
- To discharge official duties with competence and accountability; care and diligence; responsibility, honesty, objectivity and impartiality; without discrimination and in accordance with law.
- To ensure effective management, professional growth and leadership development .
- To avoid misuse of official position or information and using the public moneys with utmost care and autonomy.
- 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.
In India, civil service values have evolved over years of tradition. These values also find place in various rules, including the Code of Conduct. The current set of ‘enforceable norms’ are ‘Conduct Rules’, typified by the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules – 1964 and analogous rules applicable to members of the All India Services or employees of various State Governments. As mentioned earlier, 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’, are generally directed towards cataloguing specifi c activities deemed undesirable for government servants. There is no Code of Ethics prescribed for civil servants in India although such Codes exist in other countries. A comprehensive Civil Service Code can be conceptualized at three levels. At the apex level, there should be a clear and concise statement of the values and ethical standards that a civil servant should imbibe. These values should reflect public expectations from a civil servant with reference to political impartiality, maintenance of highest ethical standards and accountability for actions. At the second level, the broad principles which should govern the behaviour of a civil servant may be outlined. This would constitute the Code of Ethics. At the third level, there should be a specific Code of Conduct stipulating in a precise and unambiguous manner, a list of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and actions.
Some of the important conduct rules for a civil servents are as follows:
- Should apply his best judgment except when acting under the direction of his superior officer.
- He shall obtain such direction in writing. If impracticable to get written order on spot, then get the written order as soon thereafter as possible.
- Should not evade the responsibility by asking written instruction of superior, where it is not necessary in the scheme of work distribution.
- Must not bring outside influence upon any superior authority for transfer, posting, promotion etc.
- Ensure his subordinates show integrity and devotion to duty.
- For office matters, he must not directly approach court/tribunals for grievance redressal before exhausting remedies in the departmental hierarchy.
- Must not engage a private person to perform his official duties.
- Cannot do social / charitable service during office hours.
- Must not to adopt dilatory tactics or wilfully cause delays in official work.
- Must not discriminate agains working woman. Must not indulge in sexual harassment.
- Must not join any employee union/ labour union without government permission.
- Must not threaten to go on strike to meet his demand / demand of any other Government servant.
- Hunger strike, refusal to accept salary, non-cooperation with superior officer and other ‘satyagraha’ type activities also forbidden.
- Without government permission, he must not accept any honor, ceremony, meeting, rally held in his honor (or in honor of another employee).
- Suppose public/press has made some remarks against him for his official conduct. He cannot file defamation suit against them or make press statements, without government permission.
- Must not take part in politics .
- Must not give election fund/ assistance to any political party.
- Must not make speculative investment in share market. Frequent purchase or sale of bonds/equity=counts as speculation.
- Must not take any Private trade or employment without government permission.