Civil Services Reforms

Code of Conduct for Civil Servants: A Review


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Conduct of Civil Servants

Central Idea

  • The civil services in India have witnessed a resurgence in popularity, with a growing number of candidates applying each year.
  • In this article, we delve into the various rules that govern civil servants and the restrictions they face throughout their career.

Civil Services and Services Allocation

  • Successful applicants in the civil services examination can join various services based on their rank and personal preferences.
  • Three prominent services, known as All India Services, include the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and Indian Forest Service (IFS).
  • Other services, known as Central Civil Services, are under the central government and do not have a state cadre system.

Rules for Conduct of Civil Servants

  • Civil servants are governed by two sets of rules:
  1. All India Services Conduct Rules, 1968, and
  2. Central Civil Services Conduct Rules, 1964
  • These rules cover a wide range of issues, outlining the expected behaviour and conduct of civil servants.

Issues with these rules

(1) Vague and Specific Rules

  • The Conduct Rules include both vague and specific provisions.
  • Rule 3(1) emphasizes maintaining absolute integrity and devotion to duty without engaging in any behaviour unbecoming of a civil servant.
  • Rule 4(1) prohibits the use of one’s position or influence to secure employment for family members with private organizations or non-governmental organizations.

(2) Restrictions on Political Affiliation and Expression of Opinion

  • Rule 5(1) prohibits civil servants from being members of political parties or organizations involved in politics.
  • Rule 7 restricts civil servants from making adverse criticisms of government policies or actions in public media or documents.

(3) Prohibition on Dowry

  • Giving or taking dowry is strictly prohibited for civil servants under Rule 11(1-A).
  • Civil servants are required to report any gifts exceeding Rs. 25,000 received from near relatives or personal friends.

Amendments and Updates to the Rules

  • The Conduct Rules are not static and have been amended and updated over time.
  • The government determines the political nature of organizations, impacting civil servants’ association with them.
  • Additional sub-rules were added in 2014, focusing on maintaining high ethical standards, integrity, political neutrality, and accountability.

Coverage and Penalties

  • Civil servants are covered by these rules as soon as they join training, which is part of their probation period.
  • Violations of the rules can result in major penalties, including dismissal from the service.
  • The Prevention of Corruption Act (POCA) complements the Conduct Rules in addressing corruption issues.

Challenges in Enforcement

  • While the rules outline penalties, enforcing them can be challenging.
  • Complaints with proper details are necessary for action to be taken.
  • Proper channels, such as the Central Vigilance Commission and investigation agencies, exist for filing complaints.

Way Forward

  • Ensuring the effective implementation of the Conduct Rules requires streamlining the complaint process and encouraging transparency.
  • Regular review and updates of the rules can help address emerging challenges and ensure their relevance.
  • Training programs and awareness campaigns can enhance civil servants’ understanding of their responsibilities and the consequences of non-compliance.
  • Collaborative efforts between government bodies, civil society, and the public can foster a culture of accountability and ethical conduct among civil servants.


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