Probity in Governance
This article deals with topic titled ‘Probity in Governance.’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’ . For more articles , you can click here
# What is Probity
- Dictionary meaning of Probity is uprightness, integrity and incorruptibility . In broader sense, Probity is the super set which includes all good qualities including integrity
- It is Ethical Value (ie wrt society) compared to Integrity which is Moral Value . Integrity is doing right thing which is correct to yourself but Probity is doing Right thing which is correct according to all including you . Hence, in this one take preventive measures so that his act is never questioned by anyone.
- Probity is very important for Civil Servant because
- They work under doctrine of public trust
- They enjoy lot of discretion
- Indian society is divided on various lines, hence decisions shouldn’t be seen to be partisan
How to enhance Probity in Governance
- Ensured by improving measures of accountability, transparency, and responsiveness
- Effective implementation of RTI, Whistle-blower Act, Benami Transaction Act, Citizens’ Charter
- Conflict of Interests should be avoided by Public Servants
- Laws, rules and regulations should govern every aspect of public life
- Sensitivity training to civil servants
- Development of values through institutional support. (Values like, honesty, integrity, commitment to public service etc).
- Ethics audits to identify risks to the integrity
- Effective external and internal complaint and redressal procedures.
- Undertaking measures like social audit
Conflict of Interest
What is Conflict of Interest
|Conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that creates risk that primary interest can be unduly influenced by secondary interest.
- Primary interest refers to the principal goals of the profession
- Secondary interest includes financial gain , professional advancement and the wish to do favours for family and friends.
- government official is part of an appointment board to a post for which his son has also applied
- Dealing with relatives / Nepotism : Giving favours to relatives in Public contracts.
- Bribery : personal economic gains vs public interest
- Future Employment : If a public employee intends to seek employment in the future with a firm he now transacts official business with, the tendency may be to give favoured treatment
- Chief Justice Judge in his own case or making Bench involving his own name : Principle – Person cant be judge in his own case + Justice should not only be done but it should be seen to be done.
- BCCI Chairman owner of IPL Franchise Chennai Superkings : He can unduly influence selection process of Indian Cricket Team
- Owner of Beedi Manufacturing Company who is MP was member of Parliamentary Committee to suggest Warning Size on Tobacco Products
How to resolve Conflict of Interest
- Follow Code of Conduct (where it exists)
- Declaration of Interests so that Conflict of Interest can be easily recognised.
- In case there is case of Conflict, he should recuse himself from the case
- Take decision based on Objectivity ie only on basis of facts and merits
- Ensure maximum Transparency and Accountability so that others know how decision has been reached .
Constitutional Protection to Civil Servants
|Under Article 311, Civil Servants enjoy extensive protection . Article 311 reads that – Dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons employed in civil capacities under the Union or a State cant be done by Authority subordinate to that by which he was appointed.
Arguments in favour of deleting Art 311
- Against the practice followed in other countries. Even in the UK, whose administrative systems were adopted in India, such freedom does not exist.
- Hota Committee has recommended to repeal it
- 2nd ARC recommended to repeal Articles 311
- National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution had recommended
Necessary to punish corrupt officials but also to protect honest ones
- There is always a scope of questioning the efficacy of the decision in hindsight. If the civil servant fears prosecution at a future date for the decisions which, although well intentioned, did not lead to desired results, this may discourage decision making
- Such practices can cause
- Policy Paralysis : Honest officer will prefer to do nothing in order to avoid any allegations in future
- Bad Loans and NPAs worsened because Bank Officials feared to give Cuts and doing one time settlements
This can be checked in following way
- Transparency : Make public how decisions are taken
- Requirement of prior sanction to prosecute— For instance, amending Prevention of Corruption Act, thus making it mandatory for investigating agencies like the CBI to take prior approval from the government
- Doctrine of Mens Rea : Prosecuting Agencies must prove criminal intent behind doing particular act
- Diffusion of Power in Decision making : Instead of single official , Committee of Officials should take important decisions .