Apr 03, 2018
7/28/2019 Ethics in Governance
Ethics in Governance
Ethics is a set of standards that society places on itself and which helps guide behaviour, choices and
actions. The Commission is painfully aware that standards do not, by themselves, ensure ethical
behaviour; that requires a robust culture of integrity
In our society, corruption and abuse of office has been aggravated by three factors. First, there is a
colonial legacy of unchallenged authority and propensity to exercise power arbitrarily. In a society which
worships power, it is easy for public officials to deviate from ethical conduct. Second, there is enormous
asymmetry of power in our society. Third, as a conscious choice, the Indian state in the early decades
after Independence chose a set of policies whose unintended consequence was to put the citizen at themercy of the State. Over regulation, severe restrictions on economic activity, excessive state control,
near-monopoly of the government in many sectors and an economy of scarcity all created conditions
conducive to unbridled corruption.
A factor which increases corruption is over-centralization. The more remotely power is exercised from
the administrators, the greater is the distance between authority and accountability.
It is well recognized that every democracy requires the empowerment of citizens in order to hold those in
authority to account. Right to Information, effective citizens charters, opportunity and incentives to
promote proactive approach of citizens, stake-holders involvement in delivery of public services, public
consultation in decision making and social auditing are some of the instruments of accountability that
dramatically curbed corruption and promoted integrity and quality of decision making.
A detailed analysis of our anti-corruption mechanisms and the causes of their failure is necessary in order
to strengthen the forces of law and deter the corrupt public servants.
If politics attracts and rewards men and women of integrity, competence and passion for public good,
then the society is safe and integrity is maintained. But if honesty is incompatible with survival in politics,
and if public life attracts undesirable and corrupt elements seeking private gain, then abuse of authority
and corruption become the norm.
All forms of corruption are reprehensible and we need to promote a culture of zero tolerance of
The ADB OECD Anti-Corruption Action Plan, which has been signed by the Government of India, is abroad understanding to further the cause of inter-regional cooperation in the matter of prevention of
corruption. The World Bank has also declared war against corruption by refusing to fund projects whose
implementation is tainted by corrupt practices.
The Supreme Court has ruled that candidates contesting elections should file details regarding their
wealth, educational qualifications and criminal antecedents along with their nomination papers. The Right
to Information Act, which has recently been enacted, is a potent weapon to fight corruption. The
introduction of information communication technologies, e governance initiatives and automation of
corruption prone processes in administration have succeeded in reducing corruption.
Whistleblower legislation has to be put in place to protect informants against retribution. Also, we have to
suitably strengthen the institutional framework for investigating corrupt practices and awardingexemplary punishment to the corrupt thereby raising the risk associated with corrupt behaviour.
7/28/2019 Ethics in Governance
ETHICAL FRAMEWORKIndia was fortunate that high standards of ethical conduct were an integral part of the freedom struggle.
Unfortunately, ethical capital started getting eroded after the transfer of power. Excesses in elections (in
campaign-funding, use of illegitimate money, quantum of expenditure, imperfect electoral rolls,
impersonation, booth-capturing, violence, inducements and intimidation), floor-crossing after elections toget into power and abuse of power in public office became major afflictions of the political process over
the years. Political parties, governments and more importantly the Election Commission and the Supreme
Court have taken several steps since the late 1980s in an attempt to eliminate the gross abuses that had
virtually become the norm.
Criminalization of politicsparticipation of criminals in the electoral process is the soft underbelly of
our political system. The growth of crime and violence in society (to the point of encouraging mafia in
many sectors) is due to a number of root causes. Flagrant violation of laws, poor quality of services and
the corruption in them, protection for law-breakers on political, group, class, communal or caste grounds,
partisan interference in investigation of crimes and poor prosecution of cases, inordinate delays lasting
over years and high costs in the judicial process, mass withdrawal of cases, indiscriminate grant of parole,
etc., are the more important of the causes.
Large, illegal and illegitimate expenditure in elections is another root cause of corruption. While there are
formal limits to expenditure and some steps have been put in place in an attempt to check them, in reality,
actual expenditure is alleged to be far higher. Abnormal election expenditure has to be recouped in
multiples to sustain the electoral cycle!
Improvement in Accuracy of Electoral Rolls: The Election Commission has made efforts to make voterregistration more accessible to voters, Printed electoral rolls/CDs have been made available for sale,
Computerisation of entire electoral rolls of over 620 million voters has been initiated, The provision of
photo-identity cards for all voters has been started.
Disclosure of Antecedents of Candidates: The Supreme Court has directed that a candidate should declare
any conviction by a court or whether a criminal case is pending against him; The direction to file a
declaration of assets and liabilities of the candidate and family members would enable a check at the time
of the next elections.
Disqualification of Persons Convicted of Criminal Offence
Enforcement of the Code of Conduct: Using its over-all powers to superintend, control and direct
elections under Article 324 of the Constitution, the Election Commission has made the Code of Conduct
for elections binding in all respects, issuing directions regarding timings of campaigns, prohibition of
festoons/cutouts, insistence on daily expenditure statements, appointment of a large number of observers,
ordering of re-poll in specific polling booths and other such steps.
Free and fearless polling: Policing arrangements have been improved, including greater use of Central
Forces and holding of elections for more than one day in a State, and measures like sealing of borders,
etc., Electronic voting machines have been introduced throughout the country, It has been decided that the
death of an independent candidate would not lead to the cancellation of an election.
7/28/2019 Ethics in Governance
Reduction in size of Council of Ministers: A recommendation to restrict the size to 10% was made by the
first Administrative Reforms Commission more than three decades ago. The Constitution (Ninety-first
Amendment) Act, 2003 restricts the size of the Council of Ministers to 15% of the strength of the Lower
House in Parliament/State legislature. The amendment is a step towards moderating the number of
Ministers to some extent.
Issues in Political Reforms
Reform of Political Funding
One of the sources of funding of political parties has been through private donations.
Internationally, there are three broad patterns of state funding for political parties and elections.
Minimalist pattern, wherein elections alone are partially subsidized usually through specific grants
or state rendered services.
Maximalist pattern of state funding involves public funding not merely for elections but even forother party activities
In between, there are a variety of mixed patterns involving partial reimbursement for publicfunding of elections on a matching grant basis
In India. the Indrajit Gupta Committee on State Funding of Elections has recommended partial state-
funding mainly in kind. However, the National Committee for Review of the Constitution has expressed
the view that until better regulatory mechanism for political parties can be developed in India, state
funding of elections should be deferred
Parliament in 2003 unanimously enacted the Election and Other Related Laws (Amendment) Act,
provisions of the act:
Full tax exemption to individuals and corporate on all contributions to political parties.
Effective repeal of Explanation I under Section 77 of the Representation of the People Act.
Expenditure by third parties and political parties now comes under ceiling limits, and only travelexpenditure of leaders of parties is exempt.
Disclosure of party finances and contributions over Rs.20,000.
Indirect public funding to candidates of recognized parties including