Daily Answer Writing
15 April 2021

Q) " The behavior which shocked 50 years ago is now considered as normal and/or at best an aberration." In this context, should All India Services (Conduct) rules contain provisions regarding morality in personal life?  (150 Words)
Source: <https://indianexpress.com/article/india/delhi-high-court-rules-against-dismissal-of-ips-officer-on-bigamy-charges-7274029/>
GS 4: Strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance

Approach Answer:

Introduction: Morality is a set of principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong. The All India Services (Conduct) rules, 1968 mandates every member of the Civil Services to maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty and shall do nothing which is unbecoming of a member of the Service at all times.

 

These rules includes following prescription on public life:

               1. Rules regarding receiving gifts and Dowry.

               2. Rules regarding immovable/movable properties, such acts can happen only after previous sanction of the government.

               3. Rules regarding investment/ borrowing/Habitual indebtedness.

               4. Observance of cultural norms, existing policies regarding age of marriage, preservation of the Environment, Wild Life and Cultural heritage, and  observe the two children family norms.

               5. No Political influence.

               6. Norms regarding marriage: No civil servant shall enter into, or contract a marriage with a person having a spouse living; and no member of the Service having a spouse living, shall enter into, or contract, a marriage with any person.

               7. Not appear in a public place in a state of intoxication and must not use such drinks or drugs in excess.

              

Importance of these principles of morality in personal life:

               1. For integrity and honesty: It is important that a civil servant does not accept gifts and incurs excessive debt to ensure honesty.

               2. Political neutrality: No member of the Service shall bring or attempt to bring any political or other influence to bear upon any superior authority to further interests in respect of matters pertaining to his service under the Government.

               3. Promoting of the principles of impartiality: Which is only possible with political neutrality and incorruptible nature of a person.

               4. Accountability and transparency: A civil servant must only be accountable to the government and not to individual interests.

               5. Responsiveness to the public: A civil servant cannot have political, economic or social obligations which divert their attention from duty.

               6. Good behavior with the public: Thus it is important that a person does not consume intoxicants and has impeccable morality.

              

A case against excessive guidance of personal morality.

               1. Subjective nature of morality: The idea of morality changes with time and space. In some cultures consumption of alcohol might be normal.

               2. Personal Choice: A few prescriptions such as having the number of kids must be a matter of choice rather than prescription.

               3. Privacy: Right to privacy is a part of right to life. Too much interference in personal life might curb privacy.

 

Conclusion: In a recent ruling, Delhi High court has admitted the subjective and temporal nature of the Morality. Thus these rules cannot be taken in the strict sense. These must apply in order to give force to the essence of its objective i.e. to establish high ethical standards in the civil services.

 

In this context, given that a civil servant is cannot be treated like an ordinary citizen, as they have much more power which can be used irresponsibly. Thus the moral provisions of the All India Services (Conduct) Rules 1968 are prudent.

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