Impartiality UPSC | Political Patronage | Political Neutrality of Civil Servant | IAS TARGET IAS Target



Impartiality is similarly treating all the stakeholders without a preconceived prejudice or favor based on one's association either of economic or social nature to the persons in question. It is the absence of preferential treatment.
For instance, if two people come to a mediator with a dispute, then the mediator being impartial, will not let the gender, religion, caste hierarchy, or economic status of the people cloud his judgments. An impartial person will only be interested in the content of characters and arguments of the people he is dealing with.
Civil ServiceService represents the government, and the government doesn't discriminate between people. All citizens are given equal protection under the laws. An impartial Civil Servant is one who can go either way and decides on the basis of the facts and the law as conscientiously as possible. Impartial Civil Service serves people better and equally, thereby strengthening the faith of people in governance. It keeps discontent and dissent at bay and helps in the continuation of peace and order. The expectation that civil ServiceService will maintain the same standards of professionalism, responsiveness, and impartiality in serving the general public is a key element of the way the Indian democratic polity functions.

Political Patronage

Political patronage refers to the appointment or hiring of a person to a government post on the basis of partisan loyalty. Under Political patronage, we can not expect neutral or rational behavior from this person who is appointed by the party in power. Elected officials in a democratic country at the national, state, & local levels of government use such appointments to reward and favor those people who help them win and maintain an office. This practice led to the saying, "to the victor go the spoils." When political leaders use the patronage system to fire their political opponents


Impartiality, Non-Partisanship
These values are required because our society is divided on caste and religious lines. A civil servant also belongs to this society and is associated with a particular caste/class/religion/region. If civil servant remains 'conscious' of these divisive issues, they'll make biased decisions and treat citizens based on their socio-economic background. If such an officer is ignorant, partial, or lazy/corrupt, and if departmental action is taken, he will blame his superiors for discrimination on caste/regional lines. In Devyani khobragate case, his father alleged she'd been victimized because she's Dalit. Personal criticism is attributed to caste.
Significance of impartiality and non-partisanship

  • Ensuring objective and evidence-based advice.
  • Providing the information that ministers need to fulfill their accountability role to parliament and the public.
  • DDelivering services in an effective manner.
  • Managing resources and programs effectively.
  • Ensuring a legal and constitutional transition when democratic processes result in new administrations.
  • Ensuring that once professional advice is given, there is competent and able execution of those decisions which are lawfully made.

Political neutrality

Neutrality in Indian Civil Services refers that the civil servants should execute duties in accordance with laws and regulations without prejudice and fear against or preferential treatment towards any groups or individuals. Civil servants should not consider 'political neutrality' with 'government program or policy neutrality.' At the junction of policy formulation, the role of civil servants is to render free and frank advice which should not be colored by any political considerations. Civil servants' advice for better policy formulation and execution on the ground for the betterment of common people and development. Once a policy or program has been sanctioned by the elected government, it is the duty of the civil servant to faithfully & enthusiastically work for its better implementation on the ground level. Failing to perform this task by Civil Servants in the right spirit would amount to misconduct inviting appropriate sanctions.
A Political neutral civil servants i.e.,

  • their advice is expected to be non-partisan;
  • they do not undertake work which is of benefit to one party;
  • senior civil servants are restricted from taking part in party politics even outside of their professional roles.

Kenneth Kernaghan outlined a model of political neutrality in a parliamentary system of government in the following way:

  • Politics and policy are separated from the administration. So, politicians make policy decisions; and it is the duty of public servants to carry out these decisions.
  • Public servants are appointed & promoted on the basis of merit in preference on the basis of party association or contributions.
  • Civil servants do not engage in partisan political activities; they should work beyond party politics.
  • Civil servants do not publicly express their personal views on government policies or administration; they are duty-bound for their successful implementation.
  • Public servants provide straightforward and objective advice to their political masters in personal & confidence. Political masters should be aware by civil servants of the pros and cons of any policy matter instead of blindly following what is instructed. In return, political masters protect the anonymity of civil servants and administrators by publicly accepting responsibility for governmental decisions.
  • Public servants execute policy decisions loyally & zealously, notwithstanding the philosophy & programs of the party in power and regardless of their personal opinions. As a result, public servants enjoy the security of tenure during good behavior and satisfactory performance.
Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel had made the following observations in the Constituent Assembly to support the continuation of the pre-independence civil service arrangement:-
"It needs hardly to be a highlight that an efficient, discipline, & contended civil Service assured of its prospects as a result of diligent & honest work is a sine-qua-non of sound administration under a democratic regime even more than under an authoritarian rule. The ServiceService must be above party, and we should ensure that political considerations, either in its recruitment or in its discipline and control, are reduced to the minimum if not eliminated altogether."