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Unwritten rule for people holding public office

GS Paper 3


Source: Business Standard

Direction: This can be mentioned as an example – of how elected leaders misuse their position.


Context: A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice S.A. Nazeer said that there is an unwritten rule for people holding public office that they “exercise self-restriction and not blabber things” which are “very disparaging or insulting” to other countrymen. The top court said this approach is part of our constitutional culture and there is no need for it to formulate a code of conduct for public functionaries.


The top court was hearing a case related to a statement made by then Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan in 2016 about the Bulandshahr gang-rape case victims.

Khan was also booked for making inflammatory speeches while addressing a public meeting ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He was recently convicted for delivering a hate speech, was given a three-year jail term, and subsequently was disqualified from the Rampur assembly seat in Uttar Pradesh.


Earlier judgements:

Two judgments – Tehseen Poonawala and Amish Devgan – where the Hon’ble Supreme Court has laid down detailed guidelines and issued detailed directions as to what is to be done when such hate speeches are made which are abhorrent to the society.


Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct:

  • Codes of ethics establish basic principles by which public servants must abide, such as integrity, selflessness and openness. A code of conduct draws on the code of ethics to formulate standards and practices that should be applied to the particular circumstances of an institution.
  • A code of conduct sets out specific standards of professional behaviour expected in a host of situations and provides public officials with guidance for handling them. In addition, codes of conduct bring transparency and public accountability into governmental operations.



Ethics in Public Life


Mains Link:

Q. Identify ten essential values that are needed to be an effective public servant. Describe the /ways and means to prevent non-ethical behaviour in public servants. (UPSC 2021)