Q8. Honesty and uprightness are the hallmarks of civil servants. Civil servants possessing these qualities are considered as the backbone of any strong organization. In the line of duty, they take various decisions, at time some become bonafide mistakes. As long as such decisions, are not taken intentionally and do not benefit personally, the officer cannot be said to be guilty. Though such decisions may, at times, lead to unforeseen adverse consequences in the long term.
In the recent past, a few instances have surfaced wherein civil servants have been implicated for bonafide mistakes. They have often been prosecuted and even imprisoned. These instances have greatly rattled the moral fibre of the civil servants.
How does this trend affect the functioning of civil services? What measures can be taken to ensure that honest civil servants are not implicated for bonafide mistakes on their part? Justify your answer. (250 words) (20 marks)
Integrity is one of the most important qualities of a civil servant. Integrity does not only mean financial integrity, but also professional and intellectual integrity. Many honest civil servants lack the professional skills needed to perform their functions. They also sometimes follow illegal directions of their superior officers.
Public servants must be held accountable for their actions. They can’t seek protection from an action on the ground that they have not been personally benefitted from the action, particularly when their actions have caused huge loss to the nation. They must work professionally, follow all the rules and procedures while discharging their duties and take due caution before taking an important decision.
However, civil servants need to be protected when their decisions are bona fide i.e. taken “in good faith”. If such protection is not provided, officers may avoid taking important and critical decisions in government which can adversely affect the efficiency of the government and the country may suffer due to policy paralysis.
The following measures must be taken to protect honest civil servants against bonafide mistakes
• Provide adequate legal protection to civil servants in case of bonafide mistakes
• Approval of government must be taken before investigation and prosecution
• The reputation of the officer, his track record during his career must be taken into account
• Civil servants must be provided regular training to build capacity for improving their professional skills
• Audit and inspection of an important decision/s may be done by an independent agency on priority to correct the mistake/s, in time
• An institutional mechanism must be developed in the government to promote ethics and integrity in civil services. (265 words)