Role of civil services in governance, major responsibilities and constitutional provisions related to it

Civil services perform the following important functions

  1. Basis of government: No government can exist without administrative machinery. All nations, irrespective of their system of government, require some sort of administrative machinery for implementing policies.
  2. An instrument for implementing Laws and Policies: Civil services are responsible for implementing the laws and policies of government. By carrying out laws, it regulates the behaviour of the people in society. By implementing public policies and programmes, it delivers the promised goods and services to the intended beneficiaries. The ideals and objectives of government may be very popular, the plans for national development may be extremely progressive and the resources of the country may be abundant, but without civil services nothing can be achieved. An efficient civil service can avoid waste, correct errors; limit the consequences of incompetence or irresponsibility while implementing laws and public policies.
  3. Participation in policy formulation: In modern world, civil service is the chief policy maker in government. It is a source of facts; experience; ideas and solution. Public administration participates in policy making by giving advice to ministers and providing them the necessary information. The administrative tasks of public bureaucracy include formulation of policies and plans, executing and monitoring programmes, laying down laws, rules and regulations, which affect human actions in almost all walks of life.
  4. A great stabilizing force: Civil services acts as a stabilizing force in society. It settles social tensions and conflicts and thus creates social unity and harmony.
  5. Provides continuity: Civil servants carry the role of governance even when government changes after elections. Ramsay Muir has remarked that while governments may come and go, ministers may rise and fall, the administration of a country goes on forever. It is needless to say that civil services form the backbone of administration.
  6. An instrument of social change and economic development: The developing nations are mostly traditional and poor agricultural societies without adequate basic amenities of good life. These nations are struggling to achieve modernisation of society and economic development and realize welfare goals. The state is called upon to achieve these goals. These objectives have placed challenging tasks on public administration such as formulation of economic plans and their successful implementation to economic growth and social change. The accomplishment of these goals requires honest and competent civil servants.
  7. Provides a wide variety of services in the public interest: Public administration run by civil servants provides a large number of services to the people such as:

Protective Functions

  1. They protect the life and property of the people by maintaining law and order. The survival and progress of human beings depend on the proper enforcement of laws against lawbreakers.
  2. In recent times, protection of the environment is added to the protective functions of the government. As a result of rapid industrialisation, there is the problem of environmental pollution which threatens our lives and environmental pollution. Now almost all the governments are making efforts at the enhancement of environmental quality.

Facilitative services

 They provide facilitative services such as transportation, communications, and supply of power and so on.

  1. Management of public enterprises: Civil servants are managing public enterprises and public utilities in the interest of socio-economic justice. Public utilities are either publicly owned or strictly regulated in most countries. Government also imposes controls over private economic and business activities in the public interest.
  2. Welfare services: The welfare services provided for the people include social security, old age pensions, welfare of the weaker sections, poverty alleviation etc.
  3. Developmental functions: They perform a vital function of promoting agriculture, industry, internal and international trade, banking, insurance etc.

In addition to above, some other functions performed by civil service are as under:

  1. Assisting ministers in fulfilling their responsibilities towards the parliament and its committees.
  2. Handling financial operations of the state.
  3. Reforming and improving administration through O and M (i.e. organization and methods)
  4. Administrative adjudication: This is a quasi- judicial function performed by the civil service. The civil servants settle disputes between the citizens and the state. For this purpose, the Administrative Tribunals, with civil servants as judges are established. For example: The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal

Major responsibilities of civil servants to government and society

It has been found that the Civil Servant has a crucial role to ensure continuity and change in administration. The civil servants are dictated by the rules and procedures.

  1. The prime responsibility of civil services executives to society is to serve the government it has elected. It denotes that civil services must offer same standard of free, frank, impartial and responsive advice, and the same level of professionalism in administration and delivery of services, policies, programs irrespective of political party in power.
  2. Another accountability of civil services executive is to openly involve in all actions within the framework of ministerial actions to government and legislature.
  3. Specifically, civil servants are responsible for public interest in maintaining the law and ensuring that proper procedures are followed.
  4. Civil servants have close relations with society as they serve array of services. It entails that they must adopt ethical practices to deal with public.
  5. Civil servants need to serve the society by ensuring that entitlement and services provided to it under law and government policies are delivered effectively, impartially, courteously and professionally.
  6. Civil services officers also responsive to the needs of people, treating its members with courtesy and with sensitivity to their rights and aspirations.

Constitutional Provisions Related to Civil Services in India

  1. In terms of Articles 53 and 154, the executive power of the Union and the States vests in the President or Governor directly or through officers subordinate to him. These officers constitute the permanent civil service and are governed by Part XIV of the Constitution (Services under the Union and States (Article 308-323)).
  2. Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules: Work is allocated among Ministers as per the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules.
  3. Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules: The manner in which the officers are required to help the President or Governor to exercise his/her executive functions is governed by the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules.
  4. Article 308 – Definition of state.
  5. Article 310 – Tenure of office of persons serving the Union or a State.
  6. Article 311 – Dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons employed in civil capacities under the Union or a State.
  7. Article 312 – All India Services.
  8. Article 313 – Transitional Provisions.
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By B2B

Revisiting the Basics

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