IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


19th April, 2024 Polity


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Picture Courtesy: https://www.prokerala.com/news/photos/civil-services-have-to-improve-for-better-governance-column-spy-s-eye-3275112.html

Context: The comments made by India's Ambassador to Ireland were viewed as breaching the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules 1964, particularly the guideline of maintaining political neutrality.


  • The recent comments made by India's Ambassador to Ireland, in response to an editorial by The Irish Times, have sparked controversy regarding a potential breach of service rules governing Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officers.

Overview of the situation and the implications

  • The Ambassador while defending the current Prime Minister of India, has indirectly criticized the previous Government.
  • Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules 1964, mandate civil servants, including IFS officers, to uphold political neutrality and professionalism. They are expected to maintain decorum, integrity, and independence, serving the nation's interests while refraining from partisan commentary.
  • While the comments by the Ambassador may be viewed as improper or unbecoming for a diplomat, they may not necessarily constitute a clear violation of service rules. The guidelines emphasize the need for civil servants to operate in alignment with democratic values and national interests.

Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules 1964

  • The rules apply to all persons appointed to civil services or posts related to Union affairs, excluding specific categories like railway servants, All India Service members and certain posts exempted by the President. Some rules have specific exemptions for government servants based on their pay and the nature of their employment.
  • Defines "Government" as the Central Government and "Government servant" as any person appointed to a civil service or post in connection with Union affairs. Includes an explanation regarding the status of a government servant whose services are placed with other entities.
  • Outlines principles such as integrity, devotion to duty, upholding constitutional values, promoting merit and fairness, maintaining accountability, and avoiding conflicts of interest. Emphasizes political neutrality, professionalism, and maintaining confidentiality of official information.

General Conduct

  • Integrity and devotion to duty: This is the core principle. A government servant must be honest, truthful, and dedicated to their work.
  • Neutrality and Public Image: Avoid political affiliations, demonstrations, or actions that can undermine public trust in impartiality.
  • Courtesy and Accountability: Be polite and helpful in public dealings. Be transparent and accountable for decisions and actions.
  • Conflict of Interest: Disclose any situations where personal interests might conflict with official duties. Avoid making decisions for personal gain or favouring close associates.
  • Following Orders and Confidentiality: Obey lawful instructions from superiors and maintain confidentiality of official information.

Restrictions on Activities

  • Employment of Relatives: Not use positions to get jobs for close family members in certain private companies or firms.
  • Political Activities: Cannot be a member of a political party, participate in political activities, or criticize the government publicly. There are limited exceptions for casting votes and expressing personal opinions within legal boundaries.
  • Associations and Activities: Be cautious about joining associations that could compromise neutrality or participate in activities that could disrupt public order.
  • Publication, Lectures, and Evidence: Need prior permission to publish articles, books, or deliver lectures on subjects related to official work. Permission is also required to give evidence outside an official capacity in legal proceedings.
  • Right to Information: Must follow Right to Information Act guidelines when responding to requests for official information.
  • Accepting Gifts: Cannot accept gifts beyond a prescribed value from anyone except close relatives or personal friends with no official dealings.

Additional Provisions

  • Gifts and Hospitality: Can accept gifts of nominal value during traditional occasions or from close relatives and personal friends. However, it is mandatory to report gifts that could be perceived as influencing work.
  • Intoxicants and Drugs: Must comply with local laws regarding alcohol and drugs.
  • Marriage: Need government permission to marry a foreign citizen under certain circumstances.
  • Private Trade or Business: Cannot engage in private business ventures without permission.
  • Donations and Subscriptions: Cannot accept donations or subscriptions for any purpose except for public service charities.
  • Lending or Borrowing Money: Restrictions apply to borrowing money from subordinates or lending money for high interest rates.
  • Inspections and Searches: Must cooperate with authorized inspections of government residences or workplaces.
  • Inspection of Property: Need permission to acquire or dispose of immovable property beyond a certain value.


  • These rules are designed to uphold the integrity, impartiality, and professionalism of government servants. They aim to prevent conflicts of interest, maintain public trust, and ensure that government officials act in accordance with ethical standards while performing their duties. Violations of these rules can result in disciplinary action or other consequences.


Indian Express



Q. How can a civil servant enforce regulations fairly when dealing with individuals or groups they may personally agree or disagree with?  For example, enforcing environmental regulations on a struggling business they sympathize with.