Issue Debate #15 : The POCA and the liability of public servants for their official decisions

A special court on Thursday ordered framing of charges against former coal secretary H.C. Gupta and five others in a coal scam case pertaining to alleged irregularities in allocation of coal block in Madhya Pradesh.

Special CBI judge Bharat Parashar ordered to put these six accused on trial for the alleged offences under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Discuss the issue of the responsibility of the public servant for their official decisions. What should be the stand on claims of 'honest mistakes' by public servants that have led to huge losses to the public exchequer?


  • edited October 2015
    Discuss the issue of the responsibility of the public servant for their official decisions. What should be the stand on claims of 'honest mistakes' by public servants that have led to huge losses to the public exchequer?

    Responsibility is the answerability of a person for acts committed by him. Public office is a trust. The public servants strive to protect the public interest and equitable and rational use of public resources. So they must be pretty cautious in their decision as it affect public as a whole.

    In India the public services are based on the framework of political neutrality and political responsibility. This ensures that the public officials can work in public interest without being influenced by political masters. But in reality the public services are highly politicised, especially in developing countries and work to serve their personal interest instead of public interest. This makes it necessary to hold the public officials responsible for their official acts to a certain degree.

    Along with this it needs to be emphasised that "to err is humane". Mistake is done by those who actually try to do something. If there remains no security for their official decisions, it may lead to indecisiveness and policy paralysis, which naturally will harm nation's interest in long turn.
    Solutions which can be provided:
    1. The public policy decisions should be made after thoroughly publicizing the decision.
    2. The public can be included in taking big decisions through process of consultation.
    3. Enough measures must be provided to safeguard the honest officials from undue reactions.
  • bhai koi galat sahi comment to karo.... give me chance to improve my answer......
    kamiyan nikalon yaro jitni ho sake..... aur kuchh achchhe sujhav do....
  • @Captain_Peroxide very well weitten bro. I missed many points given by u. But one thing common to us is our longer answers. Let's try to finish answer in 160 -170 words. Will write it again.
  • @Captain_Peroxide ..shaam me aate hain..abhi thoda busy
    zindagi lambi nai..badi honi chahiye
  • edited October 2015
    Responsibility is answerability i.e., liability to be called to answer for omission or commission of an act. A public servant is hence responsible for omission or commission of an act in official capacity.

    A public servants actions will define the course that the country would take. The nations march towards development will bloom or doom based on his decisions. So there can be no distinction made between any mistake, he has to face the law for it. While there can be no leeway given to officers that resort to corruption or witch hunt, we should make lenient provisions to punish cases of lapse of judgement where prima facie no direct benefit is transferred for the decision maker or the benefitiary from the decision because to err is human. Also while deciding whether a decision is right or wrong we should consider other aspects like the indirect benefit it gives the citizens like cheaper call rates in case of 2G spectrum, also only the information and documents available with the officer at the time of decision should be used for analysis etc. economic loss alone cannot be sole judge.

    In order to avoid mistakes in future we should develop-
    1. Capacity building among the civil servants
    2. Provide them with tools(e-governance apps) and information that would help them take decisions better
    3. Mechanisms to shield honest officers from political harassment
    4. Transparent and objective criteria must be eveolved for awarding contracts

    All these measures will go a long way in improving the efficiency of bureaucracy and also boosts the moral of officers.

  • @Captain_Peroxide @WWG_Reloaded ..ur answers r very good..i am just including additional points
    1'i think a certain provision of poca which holds an officer guilty if his act has led to a pecuniary loss to the state irrespective of the fact whether there is any evidence of wrongly favouring a third party should be reconsidered(ref arc..naresh chandra committee)
    2sc order on public servants insisting on written orders to be enforced
    3;also officers take decision in diverse and dynamic socio eco env.and do not have the benefit of hindsight as in case of media or investigative agencies...(policy paralysis)
    zindagi lambi nai..badi honi chahiye
Sign In or Join to comment.


We are a secret self-moderated community for Civil Services preparation. Feel free to join, start a discussion, answer a question or just to say Thank you.

Just dont spread the word ;)

Sign in or join with Facebook or Google

Subscribe to ForumIAS Blog