Modi govt plans to insulate officials from political pull

Modi govt plans to insulate officials from political pull

Ministers' kin banned from foreign jobs

Modi govt plans to insulate officials from political pull

In a bid to further improve and speed up decision-making in bureaucracy, the Union government has detailed out measures to shield civil servants from political pressures.  

The revised Code of Conduct for ministers, for the first time, emphatically states that ministers should not ask bureaucrats to act in any way that would be in conflict with their duties and responsibilities. 

Another new addition in the revision is the prohibition on employment of dependents in foreign governments. 

This Code of Conduct was approved by the UPA-II in its last leg but could not be implemented. The measures suggested are almost in tune with the Narendra Modi’s agenda of minimum government and maximum governance. 

According to the slew of points flagged in the code, ministers must sever all connections with businesses and submit details of assets, liabilities and business interests within two months to the prime minister.

The code also expects ministers to ensure that their families do not engage in supply of goods or services to the government. Ministers in states will also have to adhere to this Code of Conduct and report to their respective chief ministers. 

It will be binding on a minister to disclose to the prime minister details of his assets and liabilities and business interests and those of their family members, within a period of two months from the date of assumption of office. Thus, the new ministers will have to submit their details by July 26.

As long as ministers remain in office, they should furnish annually by August 31 a declaration regarding their assets and liabilities for the previous financial year. During the UPA rule, the Cabinet Secretary had to write to ministers who had not submitted these details.

The question of the minister divesting himself of his interests will not arise in case of holding of shares in public limited companies, except where the prime minister considers that the nature or extent of his holding is likely to embarrass him in the discharge of his official duties.

The code also asks ministers to refrain from starting or joining any business. Also, he would have to report to the prime minister if a family member does so. 

In addition, a minister “should not permit spouse and dependents” to accept employment under a foreign government, in India or abroad, or in a foreign organisation without the prior approval of the prime minister.

Where the wife or a dependent of a minister is already in such employment, the matter should be reported to the prime minister for a decision on whether the employment should continue or not. “As a general rule, there should be total prohibition on employment with a foreign mission,” the code states. 

Emphasising the need to work without fear or favour, a minister should also not accept any gifts from any person with whom he may have official dealings. Moreover, he should not permit a member of his family to take debts of a nature likely to embarrass or influence him in the discharge of his official duties.