In a stern message to ministers not to entice civil servants to commit irregularities, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has cleared a change in the code of conduct for ministers that explicitly bars them from asking civil servants to do anything that conflicts with their duties.
The new code of conduct is set to come for the approval of the Union cabinet on Thursday.
Civil servants are already barred under service rules from trying to curry favour from the political executive. But there was no bar on the ministers.
The code of conduct is not legally enforceable but PM at Centre and the chief ministers in the states are charged with the responsibility of enforcing the code.
The revised code requires ministers to “uphold the political impartiality of the civil services” and not ask the civil servants to act in any way which would conflict with the duties and responsibilities of the civil servants.
In its proposal for the cabinet, the home ministry pointed that it was appropriate for the ministers to guard against the trend of civil servants in the pursuit of “so-called attractive transfers and postings”.
The second Administrative Reforms Commission had made a recommended code of ethics for ministers asking them to ensure impartiality of the civil service after it was pointed out that in certain states, certain civil servants are identified with a particular political group and others with the opponent. A group of ministers (GoM) had accepted the recommendation of the commission but because of “oversight”, it was not brought before the cabinet.
Once the cabinet approves the code, it will also be sent to the state government for adoption and implementation. The cabinet had earlier amended the code for ministers asking them to submit declaration of assets and liabilities of their entire family for every financial year.