Public service is a public trust. Citizens expect public servants to serve the public interest with fairness and to manage public resources properly on a daily basis. Fair and reliable public services inspire public trust and create a favorable environment for businesses, thus contributing to well-functioning markets and economic growth. Therefore, civil servants and public officials are expected to maintain and strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in government, by demonstrating the highest standards of professional competence, efficiency, and effectiveness, upholding the Constitution and the laws, and seeking to advance the public good at all times.
The components of the public interest:
Acting in the public interest has two separate components:
- Objectives and outcomes — that the objectives and outcomes of the decision-making process are in the public interest, and
- Process and procedure — that the process adopted and procedures followed by decision-makers in exercising their discretionary powers are in the public interest, which would include:
- Complying with applicable law (both its letter and spirit)
- Carrying out functions fairly and impartially, with integrity and professionalism.
- Complying with the principles of procedural fairness/natural justice
- Acting reasonably.
- Ensuring proper accountability and transparency.
- Exposing corrupt conduct or serious maladministration.
- Avoiding or properly managing situations where their private interests conflict or might reasonably be perceived to conflict with the impartial fulfillment of their official duties, and
- Acting politically in the performance of their official functions.
When a public servant assumes public trust, he is morally bound to put himself in the shoes of his citizens. This is exemplified by the following examples:
- He should respect every individual time & be available to attend to their needs 24×7
- He is expected to take every decision with due care & transparency (uploading all details in the public domain to enable public scrutiny). lack of transparency damages the institution like Judiciary due to opaque collegium proceedings.
- In light of recent EVM controversy, the election commission decided to organize an open hackathon to uphold public trust over the machines. People are also included in test runs before elections. VVYPAT was also introduced for verification.
- He should put his “duty before self”. a civil servant who puts himself before his duty loses the hard earned public trust & causes irreparable damage to the institution which he represents. for ex. Conduct of ex-CBI chief caused heavy damage to the institution.
- He should put all his assets & liabilities in public domain for example- TN cadre IAS officer U.Sagayam’s conduct to put all his personal details on official website has earned him a lot of public trust.
- He should work without ill-will, fear or favour upholding himself completely accountable to people. his acts should uphold public interest. for ex- an officer should uphold merit in recruitment (public interest) & refuse to bow down to any kind of pressure
Being a public servant is not a vocation. it’s a public trust. thus, every civil servant is morally bound to give back of society. after he is just a trustee on behalf of people.