(GIST OF YOJANA) Probity in Governance

(GIST OF YOJANA) Probity in Governance


Probity in Governance


  • Ethics is a set of standards that helps guide behaviour, choice and actions of individuals. It is multidimensional as it is governed by the value system of the society including the concept of rights, obligations, fairness, virtues, etc.
  • Ethics and probity form the cornerstone of the public administration system. When the governments are playing an active role in the socio-economic development of the country, the role of the government functionaries becomes more challenging as they are both the facilitators and enforcers of the law and rules. The values facilitating the subordination of the self to a larger good and spirit of empathy for others cannot be easily imbibed in a short time. These altitudinal changes require nurturing over a lifetime.
  • Responsibility and accountability are integral to ethics. The character of laws and rules through which accountability is enforced is based on the moral ideas of society. Code of Conduct/Ethics for its Ministers, legislators and civil servants is prescribed in many countries. There is a Ministerial Code in the UK, a Code of Conduct in the US Senate and a ‘Guide for Ministers’ in Canada. Spam has a Code of Good Governance for Ministers and Senior officers.


  • The word ‘ethics’ is from the original Greek term ‘ethikos’, meaning ‘arising from habit’. Undoubtedly, culture, values, character, the sense of right and wrong are quintessential determinants of ethics. 
  • At the same time, the role of institutions and institutional frameworks to ensure ethical governance cannot be understated. Ethics in public is not limited to the expression of high moral values alone. It also refers to the framework for holding the public functionaries legally accountable for their acts of omission and commission.

Ethics in Governance:

  • Ethics is concerned with human character and conduct. It condemns all types of falsehood. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission in its Second Report on Ethics suggested the principles for ethics in the governance and stated that: Any framework of ethical behaviour must include the following elements:

1. Codifying ethical norms and practices.

2. Disclosing personal interest to avoid conflict between public interest and personal gain.

3. Creating a mechanism for enforcing the relevant codes.

4. Providing norms for qualifying and disqualifying a public functionary from office.


  • Values serve as guiding stars showing the path to all the members of the society and everyone is expected to respect and follow them. As they are not codified and are subject to interpretation, situations of conflict do arise. At the same time, a sense of right and wrong is deeply ingrained in culture and civilization. The ethos of the society is designed by the behaviour patterns of its citizens building an environment of trust and confidence.


  • Integrity has to be seen as a holistic concept covering various aspects of conduct and not limited to financial honesty. Public office should be treated as a trust which imposes a lot of responsibility on the holders of the office and makes them accountable to society. The power of righteousness and the capability to uphold the truth have to come from within. Honesty can’t simply be a mandate emanating out of a government order. 
  • Integrity requires the public functionaries to exercise due diligence while discharging their duties responsibly, make decisions with the public interest in mind and be honest in carrying out their work and handling government resources.

Conflict of interest:

  • Conflict of interest is to be avoided in all circumstances and at all times. Accordingly, under no circumstances, the official position should be used for private purposes. 
  • Government functionaries should be careful about their relationships with stakeholders which may influence, compromise or threaten their ability to act objectively for the overall good of the society.
  • Decisions should never be driven by gains for a select few or specific segments of society.


  • Probity in governance is absolutely essential for an efficient and effective system of governance. Ethics and probity cannot be seen in isolation. Both are intertwined and have to be seen as complementary to each other. 
  • The Consultation Paper on ‘Probity in Governance’ issued in 2001 by the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution highlighted many legislative and institutional issues including:

1. need for enforcing section 5 of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act

2. the necessity for a law providing for the confiscation of illegally acquired assets of public servants,

3. enactment of a Public Interest Disclosure Act,

4. enactment of a Freedom of Information Act,

5. the necessity for enacting a Lok Pal Bill in addition to the Central Vigilance Commission Act and

6. strengthening of the Criminal Judicial System.


  • The Government functionaries are part of the society and to that extent are influenced by societal norms. 
  • At the same time being part of the governance structure, they have to be more responsible and seen to be above board all the time. There is a strong legal and institutional framework for ensuring probity. 
  • It needs to be strengthened and made more effective by nudging people to follow the laws of the land and making punishments fer the delinquents very severe.



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Courtesy: Yojana