What are the current provisions to rule out conflict of interest in senior bureaucrats assuming corporate roles post-resignation or retirement? Discuss suggesting what further reforms should be done to avoid post-retirement or post-resignation conflict of interest. []

Conflict of interest is that situation where personal interests and organisational interests clash and puts a public servant in a position to decide between the both. Most of the times, it may appear that the post holder chooses own interest over the organisational interest. This is a wide spread ethical problem where senior bureaucrats and retired personnel are not an exception. Public servants gain a lot of experience through out their service and intend to spread their wisdom into corporate sector by taking up job roles after their retirement or resignation.

  • To avoid any conflict of interest, the government has come up with a cooling period before the ex bureaucrats take up private sector roles. This period has been reduced from two years to one year by the 2006 amendment in the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules. This gap avoids the public servant in favouring any potential commercial employer in return for post-retirement opportunities.
  • As per Rule 10 of Central Civil Services rules(pension), a retired bureaucrat should obtain a permission from the government in order to take up a corporate job with in one year of retirement. Sub rule 3 of Rule 10 has clauses which states that the officer during the last three years of his service should not be exposed to sensitive or strategic information related to prospective commercial employment. Another clause also prohibits the conflict of interest of the policies of government office held by the officer during the end of his term and the interests of the commercial employer.
  • The government has a discretion to deny the permission to the post retirement jobs if the employer is in conflict of interest on the grounds of India’s foreign relations, national security and internal harmony. The service record of the officer is also made sure that it is clean vis-a-vis dealings with NGOs. 

The way forward,
Conflict of interest is viewed as abuse of power and root cause for corruption. The scale of the problem should be recognised and steps should be taken with proper framework.

  • A codified mechanism should be put in place which punishes non- disclosure of any conflict of interest.
  • The private member’s bill by E.M.S.Natchiappan Prevention and Management of conflict of interest bill, 2012 proposes to bring all arms of governance- legislative, executive and judiciary under its ambit. 
  • The parliamentary standing committee on the Department of Personnel and Training in its Report 60 of may 2013 recommended for a cooling period of 5 years when the bureaucrat expresses interest to work for private sector post retirement. 
  • Reasons for their interest to join or reasons for declining any private job offer should be clearly stated to avoid any political concerns.
  • Transparency should be established. Data of the post retirement appointments of the bureaucrats should be made available to the public. 
  • The public offices should adopt the private sector practice of consumer watch dogs, credit rating and activist shareholders to check conflict of interest.
Question for UPSC Mains:
What are the current provisions to rule out conflict of interest in senior bureaucrats assuming corporate roles post-resignation or retirement? Discuss suggesting what further reforms should be done to avoid post-retirement or post-resignation conflict of interest. [The Hindu | TOI]

Published: December 30, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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