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Public Service Ethics


Public Service Ethics officially accepted standard of behaviour for government officials and employees. Such code may be embodied in a statute or in varied departmental regulations or in legislative resolutions. Ethics prescribe and proscribe certain behaviour under specified conditions designed to preserve and promote the accountability and integrity of public servants. The ethical standard of the civil servants is moulded by their social and historical tradition and the cultural environment. The ultimate standard of conduct for the public servants is the realisation of public interest as opposed to group or private interest.

The civil service in Bangladesh leaves behind a long colonial tradition, characterised by the authoritarian spirit negative in purpose, and meant for sub-serving imperial interest. For almost two hundred years of British rule in India, the mode of entry into the covenanted civil service was purely on the basis of patronage, and therefore their competence was not always satisfactory. warren hastings started the process on which charles cornwallis built a better standard of conduct. The measures that Cornwallis adopted were: firstly, the pay and allowances of the civil servants were substantially enhanced to enable them to live a decent and comfortable life during and after office; secondly, he fought against the abuses of patronage which was the mode of entry into the Company's civil service. As a result, the standard of morale was raised, integrity and devotion to duty began to grow. The lasting policy to the building of morale of civil service was the laying of the foundation of pay and salary determination by islington commission (1912) towards the close of the 20th century. Thus the British government towards the close of their rule in India tried to build up a general atmosphere of civil service morale although they were not specific in the ethical issues or behavioural standards of the civil servants.

After partition of 1947, Pakistan faithfully adhered to the British colonial policy as regards civil service. During 24 years of Pakistan there had been widespread allegations of corruption, lack of honesty and integrity among the civil servants at all levels. The corrupt practices took the form of bribery, fraud, misappropriation of public funds, tampering with official records, use of official position for monetary gains and favouritism. Section 161 of Pakistan Penal Code (1963) made it punishable to take illegal gratification by a public servant other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act.

In the civil service of Bangladesh there is no codified law of ethics. Whatever is there, amounts to ethical laws, are scattered in the laws like the Government Servants Conduct Rules 1979, and the Government Servants (Discipline and Appeal) Rules 1985. These rules deal with behavioural standards considered prejudicial to the honesty and integrity of the civil servants and infliction of punishments. [ATM Obaidullah]