How ethics and Citizen Charter are related? What are the ethical issues in Citizen charter?

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Title: Ethics, Citizen Charter and their Interrelation: A Comprehensive Guide for UPSC Aspirants


A Citizen Charter essentially endeavors to render the public service sector more user-friendly and accountable by assuring the quality of services provided. However, its definition and impact cannot be fully grasped without understanding the role of ethics within its scope. For those aiming to crack the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examinations, such an understanding is paramount.

The Intersection of Ethics and Citizen Charter

Ethics is a crucial pillar of public administration as it addresses questions of right and wrong. It establishes a framework within which decisions and actions need to be taken by public servants. Similarly, the Citizen charter, introduced in India in 1997, is a document of commitment to deliver high standards of services by public organizations with a transparent, accountable and citizen-friendly approach. Therefore, the effectiveness of Citizen Charter is deeply tied to the ethical standards upheld in its implementation.

For instance, the charter mandates that organizations provide detailed information about the services they offer. However, without robust ethical guidelines, these could easily be manipulated or miscommunicated. It is, therefore, the ethical responsibility of public servants to uphold transparency and truthfulness.

Ethical responsibilities also extend to efficient service delivery. Service providers must be accountable for their performance, and they should be held responsible for instances of corruption, partiality, or negligence. For example, when allocating land or permits, public officials should be guided by the ethical principles of fairness and impartiality and should resist any temptations for personal gain.

Indeed, it is the upholding of ethics that ensures respect for the Citizen Charter, leading to its successful implementation.

Ethical Issues in the Citizen Charter

Despite its benefits, the Citizen Charter is not devoid of ethical issues.

1. Transparency: Transparency is a cardinal principle of a Citizen Charter. However, in practice, there is a lack of adequately detailed procedures and guidelines to realize this. Often, citizens are not fully informed of the procedures involved in availing public services, violating their right to information.

2. Accountability: As per the Citizen Charter, every service provider is accountable for their conduct and service quality. However, these rules are not adequately enforced, and defaulters often escape punishment.

3. Corruption: The Charter calls for a zero-tolerance policy against corruption. However, instances of corruption are still prevalent in public offices, leading to a severe compromise of public trust.

4. Non-uniformity in Standards of Service: Ideally, a Citizen Charter should ensure an equal standard of services to every citizen. However, favoritism, nepotism and discrimination often mar this uniformity in practice.


To overcome these issues, the leader’s responsibility is to ensure the enforcement of ethics in the way public services are rendered. Further, as the public progressively becomes more aware, they play a crucial role in expecting, demanding and respecting services that uphold the principles encapsulated in the Citizen Charter.

For UPSC aspirants, understanding the balance between ethics and the Citizen Charter becomes an essential lesson in public administration. Upholding transparency, accountability, and impartiality are not just goals but duties of an efficient administration. By acknowledging and addressing these ethical dilemmas, future civil servants can lead a change in the way public services are rendered, one where the Citizen Charter is respected and upheld in its true sense.

Prince Luthra (UPSC CSE AIR 577)

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