Code of Ethics
Code of Ethics refers to a set of guidelines to bring about acceptable behaviours in members of a particular group, association or profession.
Basically, it is guidelines of principles for experts to conduct business honestly. It defines the minimum requirements for conduct, and behavioural expectations instead of specific activities.
Thus, the Code is built on three levels namely:
- Values and ethical standards
- Principles based on these values and ethics (Code of Ethics)
- Code of Behaviour which is based on professional ethics (Code of Conduct).
Principles of code of ethics: The five fundamental principles of code of ethics are as under –
- Integrity: A professional should be straightforward and honest in all professional and business dealings.
- Objectivity: An expert should not allow bias, conflict of interest or unnecessary influence of others to supersede professional or business judgments.
- Professional competence and due care: A professional has a responsibility to maintain professional knowledge and skill at the level required to guarantee that a customer or employer receives competent professional service based on current developments in practice, legislation and techniques. A professional should act assiduously and in accordance with applicable technical and professional standards.
- Confidentiality: An expert should respect the confidentiality of information acquired as a result of professional and business relationships and should not reveal any such information to third parties without proper and specific authority unless there is a legal or professional right or duty to disclose. Confidential information acquired as a result of professional and business relationships should not be used for the personal benefit of the professional accountant or third parties.
- Professional behaviour: A professional should obey with pertinent laws and regulations and should avoid any action that discredits the job.
Need for a Code of Ethics:
- To discharge official duties with competence and accountability; care and diligence; responsibility, honesty, objectivity and impartiality; without discrimination and in accordance with the law;
- To ensure effective management, professional growth and leadership development;
- To avoid misuse of official position or information and using the public moneys with utmost care and economy; and
- Function with the objective that Public Services and Public Servants are to serve as instruments of good governance and to provide services for the betterment of the public at large;
- Code of ethics comes in picture where the concerned issue is not clear and there is a case of ambiguity. For example, if the law says that a person should not be entitled for a scheme unless she has the relevant paper, however, the code of ethics comes in picture when the authority finds out, though an individual might not have the papers, he/she is an eligible person.
- Foster socio-economic development, with due regard to the diversity of the nation but without discrimination on the ground of caste, community, religion, gender or class and duly protecting the interest of poor, underprivileged and weaker sections.
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- Code of ethics deviates us from following rules, being objective, rather it introduces an element of discretion.
- Once a person is allowed on the basis of genuine case, there is scope of malpractice by the miscreants.
Code of Ethics are important for all segments of the bureaucracy and, equally so, for all local bodies and their employees. The 2nd ARC recommended that there should be a set of Public Service Values which should be stipulated by law. Additionally, there should be a mechanism to ensure that civil servants constantly aspire towards these values.