Narendra Modi. Photo: Reuters
The Narendra Modi government has amended 46-year-old conduct rules for top bureaucrats to include new provisions that now mandate that a civil servant shall maintain political neutrality and take decisions on merit alone, reports the Times of India.
The government has issued a gazette notification on August 6 amending the All India Service (Conduct) Rules, 1968 for All-India Service officers of IAS, IPS and Indian Forest Service.
Infograph taken from The Times of India
As many as 19 provisions have been inserted in the existing rules which now say that every member of the all-India service shall maintain "high ethical standards, integrity and honesty" as well as political neutrality. "Every member of the service shall maintain promoting of principles of merit, fairness and impartiality in the discharge of duties, accountability and transparency, responsiveness to the public - particularly to the weaker sections - and courtesy and good behaviour with the public," say the new set of rules inserted by the government.
Earlier conduct rules only said this much: "All members shall at all times maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty and shall do nothing which is unbecoming of a member of the Service."
Now, it has also been stipulated that a bureaucrat shall not place himself under any financial or other obligations to any individual or organisation which may influence him in the performance of his official duties. Another new provision inserted in the conduct rules is that the bureaucrat should declare his private interests relating to his public duties and take steps to resolve any conflicts in a way that protects the public interest.
Other new attributes expected now of a bureaucrat by the Modi government are: "he should commit himself to and uphold the supremacy of the constitution and democratic values, defend and uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, public order, decency and morality."
The new set of rules by the government also specify that bureaucrats shall take decisions "solely in public interest" and use/cause to use public resources "efficiently, effectively and economically".
The new rules also say that a civil servant "should not misuse his position" and not take decisions in order to derive financial or material benefits for "himself, his friends or family". Bureaucrats are now expected not to discriminate against anyone, particularly the poor and under-privileged sections of society and "refrain" from doing anything which is contrary to law or established practices.
"A civil servant shall maintain discipline in the discharge of his duties and be liable to implement the lawful orders duly communicated to him. He will be liable to maintain confidentiality in the performance of his officials duties as required by law, particularly with regard to information, disclosure of which will prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, strategic, scientific or economic interests of India, friendly relations with foreign countries or lead to incitement of an offence or illegal gains to any person," the new rules say.
It has also been specified that a civil servant shall performs and discharge his duties with the "highest degree of professionalism" and "dedication to the best of his abilities." Such wide-ranging set of conduct rules now ensure bureaucrats will have to be on their toes as violation of these conduct rules can lead to strong disciplinary action.