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Code of Conduct for civil servants

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Role of Civil Services in a Democracy


Source: IE

Context: Specially designed Conduct Rules govern a civil servant’s behaviour and conduct.


What are the civil services?

  • There are 3 All India Services (governed by Article 312 of the Indian Constitution) – the IAS, IPS and the Indian Forest Service (IFoS) – with officers allotted to various state cadres by the central government.
    • The Centre then gets a certain percentage of officers from each state on central deputation.
  • Other services are called Central Civil Services (such as the Indian Foreign Service, the Indian Revenue Service, Customs and Central Excise Service, etc).
    • These are under the central government with no state cadre system.


Rules governing civil services:

  • There are two sets of rules for civil servants – one for AISs (The AIS Conduct Rules, 1968) and the other for CCSs (The CCS Conduct Rules, 1964).
  • These were framed based on recommendations from a committee – Committee on Prevention of Corruption headed by K Santhanam – constituted in 1962.


Code of conduct highlighted in the rules:

  • Every member of the Service shall –
    • Maintain high ethical standards, integrity and honesty; political neutrality; accountability and transparency; fairness and impartiality; responsiveness to the public, etc.
    • Use public resources efficiently, effectively and economically; declare any private interests relating to his public duties to resolve any conflict of interest.
    • At all times maintain devotion to duty, and do nothing which is unbecoming of a member of the Service.
  • No member of the Service shall –
    • Use his/her position to secure employment for any of his/her family members with any private undertaking/NGO;
    • Give or take or abet the giving or taking of
  • A member of the service may accept gifts from his near relatives or friends having no official dealings with them.
    • But, he shall report to the government if the value of such gift exceeds Rs.25,000.
  • While members can hold personal political beliefs, these rules restrict the degree to which they can act on them. For example, members not allowed –
    • To be part of, assist political parties; interfere with or take part in an election to any legislature or local authority.
    • To criticise any current policy or action of the government. However, civil servants are allowed to express their opinion on official documents.


Penalties for transgressions:


Issues with the Conduct Rules:

  • Vague: For example, while the promotion of casteism is not covered under any specific Conduct Rules, casteist behaviour can be interpreted as “unbecoming of a member of the Service”.
  • Ambiguous: Ideas like personal integrity are not well defined. That is why evils like taking dowry are banned but seemingly common.
  • There is no ethical code for civil servants in India.


Insta Links:



Mains Links:

Has the Cadre-based Civil Services Organization been the cause of slow in India? Critically examine. (UPSC 2014)