Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked his ministerial colleagues to sever all ties with businesses in which they may have a stake.
The June 2009 communication, which came to light on Wednesday, is aimed at checking conflict of interest between the government and business.
The ministers have, for the first time, also been advised to distance themselves from the conduct and management of any business they might have been interested in before appointment.
Ministers, both at the Centre and in the states, are required to submit details of the assets.
Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily and Power Minister Sunil Kumar Shinde have welcomed the move. “It’s a positive step towards cleaning up the system,” Moily said.
But the code of conduct has no legal sanctity or penalty for violation.
The second administrative reforms commission, headed by Moily, wanted the code be made “enforceable”. But the UPA government had shot down the suggestion.
It is for the prime minister to ensure that his ministerial team follows the code.