The conditions of service for civil servants in India are laid down by the All-India Service (Conduct) Rules, 1968 and the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, which are formulated under the All-India Services Act, 1951. These rules establish enforceable norms that prescribe a code of conduct for civil servants, emphasizing the use of authority for public welfare rather than personal gains.
However, despite the existence of this Code of Conduct, it has not effectively promoted ethical and moral governance due to several reasons:
- Absence of a code of ethics: While India has conduct rules that prohibit certain undesirable behavior, there is a lack of a comprehensive code of ethics that provides a moral and ethical framework guiding the actions and behavior of civil servants. This results in morally ambiguous decisions.
- Conflict of interest: The Code of Conduct has not anticipated all potential scenarios of abuse of power. As a result, principles such as impartiality, equality, social justice, and the rule of law are compromised when decisions are influenced by considerations of post-retirement benefits.
- Lack of compassion: Although the Code of Conduct may emphasize procedural adherence, values like empathy and compassion, which are crucial for public service, are often given less importance.
- Limited awareness: Despite the long-standing implementation of the Code of Conduct, there is limited knowledge about its functioning and enforcement.
- Lack of accountability: The Code expects public servants to be accessible and accountable to the public regarding the quality of service provided. However, inadequate service delivery, ineffective grievance redressal mechanisms, and limited access to public services undermine public trust and highlight the ineffectiveness of the Code in ensuring accountability.
In light of these challenges, there is a compelling need to establish a National Commission on Integrity and Transparency in Governance (NCITG) to address the aforementioned issues. The NCITG would:
- Establish goals and standards: The commission would not only define minimum standards of conduct but also set high expectations for public servants, particularly those in higher positions where discretion plays a significant role.
- Develop a code of prescribed behavior: The commission would provide guidance to employees on ethical conduct, outlining what they must do and how they should demonstrate ethical behavior.
- Regularly review and update: The commission would ensure the periodic review of policies, procedures, practices, and institutions that influence ethical conduct in the public sector. It would also facilitate better adherence to ethical governance principles and prompt corrective measures when necessary.
- Integrate ethical dimensions into management frameworks: The commission would ensure that management practices align with the values and principles of public service.
By institutionalizing the NCITG, the relationship of trust between the public and the government would be strengthened, promoting ethical governance through principles of integrity and transparency