A Group of Ministers (GoM) has asked the government to consider a draft code of ethics for ministers and code of conduct for public servants after it was recommended by the Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) to safeguard the political neutrality and impartiality of the civil services.

The GoM headed by Defence Minister A.K. Antony at its meeting held here on Tuesday to consider recommendations of the tenth report of the ARC asked the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances to finalise its report before the next date of sitting, official sources said on Wednesday.

The GoM members, who attended the meeting, felt such a code was imperative and that it will certainly add to the neutral and transparent working relationship between bureaucracy and ministers, they said.

“There is a need to safeguard the political neutrality and impartiality of the civil services. The onus for this lies equally on the political executive and the civil services.

“This aspect should be included in the Code of Ethics for Ministers as well as the Code of Conduct for Public Servants,” the ARC had recommended.

It is pertinent to mention that the government had earlier rejected a recommendation in this regard made by ARC in its fourth report titled ‘Ethics in Governance’.

In addition to the existing code of conduct for ministers, there should be a code of ethics to provide guidance on how ministers should uphold the highest standards of constitutional and ethical conduct in the performance of their duties, the fourth report had suggested.

It had also recommended setting up of dedicated units in the offices of the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers to monitor the observance of the code of ethics and conduct.

Earlier rejecting the suggestions, the government had said these ARC recommendations to prepare a code of ethics for ministers have been considered by the Empowered Committee constituted for this purpose, and it has been decided that the ‘code of ethics’ is not considered necessary as there was already a code of conduct.

“The code of ethics would only be duplication and may not serve any purpose,” it had said.

The tenth report of ARC ‘Refurbishing Personnel Administration-Scaling New Heights’ is being considered by the GoM comprising Food Minister Sharad Pawar, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister M. Veerappa Moily among others.

Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath, Communication and IT Minister Kapil Sibal, Road Transport and Highways Minister C.P. Joshi, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Kumari Selja, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions V. Narayanasamy are also the members of the group.

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