The Narendra Modi government has amended the All India Service (Conduct) Rules, 1968 to include a 19-point guideline for bureaucrats, which mandates that they should maintain “political neutrality”, “make recommendations on merit alone” and “take decisions solely in public interest” among other things.
According to a Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) note, these amendments have been made by the Centre “after consultations with the state governments”.
While the original rules simply stated that every member of the service “shall take all possible steps to ensure integrity of, and devotion to duty by all government servants for the time being under his control and authority” and “shall, in the discharge of his duties, act in a courteous manner and shall not adopt dilatory tactics in his dealings with the public or otherwise”, the latest amendments elaborate in detail the kind of conduct expected from the civil servants.
Under the newly amended rules, All India Service officers — which include IAS, IFS and IPS — must:
- Declare any private interests relating to their public duties and take steps to resolve any conflicts in a way that protects the public interest.
- Ensure that they do not place themselves under any financial or other obligations to any individual or organisation which may influence them in the performance of their official duties.
- Not misuse their position as civil servant and not take decisions in order to derive financial or material benefits for themselves, their family or friends.
- Ensure courtesy and good behaviour with the public, display responsiveness to the public, particularly to the weaker section.
- Take decisions solely in public interest and use or cause to use public resources efficiently, effectively and economically.
- Maintain high ethical standards, integrity and honesty, promote the principles of merit, fairness and impartiality in the discharge of duties.
- Maintain accountability and transparency.
- Make choices, take decisions and make recommendations on merit alone.
- Act with fairness and impartiality and not discriminate against anyone, particularly the poor and the under-privileged sections of society.
- Refrain from doing anything which is or may be contrary to any law, rules, regulations and established practices.
- Maintain discipline in the discharge of his duties and be liable to implement the lawful orders duly communicated to him.
- Perform and discharge his duties with the highest degree of professionalism and dedication to the best of his abilities.
- Be liable to maintain confidentiality in the performance of his official duties as required by any laws for the time being in force, particularly with regard to information, disclosure of which many prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of state, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state, friendly relations with foreign countries or lead to incitement of an offence or illegal or unlawful gains to any person.