Ethics and Integrity Propriety and Public Life

Propriety means conformity to established standards of morals and appropriateness for the purpose or circumstances; suitability
rightness or justness. It is an essential attribute of those in public service.

The meaning of the term propriety encompasses ‘appropriateness’, ‘rightness’, ‘correctness in behaviour or morals’, ‘conformity with convention in conduct’, ‘the standards of behaviour considered correct by society’. The core principles of the concept of propriety could be summarised as under:

  • Integrity
  • Openness
  • Objectivity
  • Honesty
  • Selflessness

The concept of propriety can be related to various other concepts. To list a few:

  • Accountability
  • Legality
  • Probity
  • Value for money
  • Fraud & Corruption
  • Governance

Though the concept of propriety is generally associated with public sector activities, the time has now come to apply this concept even in the private sector. With the changing environment, there is a greater emphasis on conformance with prescribed values, customs, procedures and practices, keeping in mind the public interest.

In India there is a Statement of Judicial Values that sets high benchmarks for judicial behavior in line with propriety.

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behavior expected of all civil servants, for example, participation of government servants in political activities and attendance by government servants at political meetings .

No member of the Civil Service shall use his position or influence directly or indirectly to secure employment for any member of his family with any private undertaking or Non- Government Organisation.Civil servants should not abuse office and official power.

Auditors and companies also have demands of propriety. For example, recent examples of Nestle’s Maggi being contaminated and the auditors of Satyam Computer Services Ltd overlooking best practices.* Fallout of Sushma Swaraj episode

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