… rules to improve efficiency, accountability and prevent corrupt practices

Rinzin Wangchuk

Civil servants who disclose critical information to an inappropriate person, audience, platform or forum and those who use official information for personal gains will be demoted in the first instance. Repeat offenders will be asked to retire.

Similarly, they also cannot post hate messages or any content with the intent to defame a person or government agencies in a public forum, including online forums. These are classified as major offences in the Rules for Administrative Disciplinary Actions (RADA) July 2022 which came into effect on July 15.

In a July 15 notification, the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) chairperson Karma Hamu Dorjee stated that aligned to the principle of deterrence, administrative offences with corresponding sanctions are classified into major and minor depending on their gravity or depravity.

The other major offences are tempering of computer files and programmes, false recording of receipts of goods and services, acceptance of inferior goods and services, acceptance of wrong or defective goods, services and works, and deliberate manipulation of specification or collusive bidding and price fixing.

Major sanctions will be imposed on those who make fictitious claims or incur expenses such as travel and subsistence payments, unjustified either by themselves or by staff reporting to them, and for gross neglect of duty. Those who are compulsive drinkers, and substance abusers will also be liable for major penalties.

A civil servant who supports or conceals information related to corrupt practices, lobbies his agency or others to promote the business or trade of his family or relatives, and fails to declare a conflict of interest which results in major implications for the agency will lose two month’s basic salary for the first offence and retired compulsory if repeated.


Corrupt practices

As per the RADA, a civil servant can be demoted or compulsorily retired for gross misuse of government property. He can lose two months’ basic salary or be demoted or removed if he solicits or accepts gratuity or gifts which might reasonably be interpreted as tending to influence the performance of his official duties.

Minor offences like engaging in private trade, employment and commercial activities, gross misuse of office time for personal purposes, influencing clients and staff for personal gains, unauthorised absence during working hours or on any scheduled day of work, including a pattern of frequent lateness for duty are subjected to reprimand, withholding of one or two months’ basic salary, and compulsory retirement if repeated.

Engaging in incitement and conflicts, passing lewd remarks to clients and colleagues, discrimination in rendering public service due to preference and refusal to perform official duty are also classified as minor offences. Those found guilty of these offences will be reprimanded, demoted or retired compulsorily after the third offence.


National Security

Those involved in unauthorised disclosure or exposure of classified, administratively-controlled information, aid or cover another person or group engaged in anti-agency or antisocial activities, initiate and support or participate in any form of demonstration or similar other activities including online protest against the government will be prosecuted in the court.

“And administrative sanctions shall depend on the court’s verdict,” stated the RADA.

And one will be retired compulsorily if he expresses views or involves in an activity that would tarnish the image of the country.

If one is convicted by the court of law for a criminal offence of a misdemeanour and above for offences related to discharge of official functions he will be terminated.


Apolitical civil service

A civil servant has to compulsorily retire if he is a candidate for any election conducted under the electoral laws or holds any paid or unpaid post in any political party. He will be first reprimanded, then withheld of one month’s basic salary and finally demoted or compulsorily retired if he expresses any opinion on politics or political parties either explicitly or implicitly.

If a civil servant performs or neglects his duty based on his political view then he will be demoted or retired compulsorily if the offence is repeated.


Supervisory accountability

The rules state that a supervisor shall be liable for supervisory accountability and administrative sanction for lack of supervision, for any major corruption or gross official misconduct of his subordinates even if the supervisor is not directly involved in such misdeeds. The head of the agency will be responsible for fixing accountability on supervisors as per the delegation of authority prescribed in BCSR. The supervisor will also be liable for varying degrees of penalty.


Rationale of RADA

The RCSC is expected to enhance good governance and address corruption by promoting transparency, accountability and efficiency in the civil service.

The chairperson stated that the rules were developed, expanding the provisions of Chapter 19 (Administrative Discipline) of the BCSR 2018 to ensure consistency, predictability and equity in administrative procedures or actions and to guide agencies to correctly and uniformly adjudicate administrative cases involving civil servants.

“However, it is not intended to replace BCSR or any other relevant laws but will supplement the BCSR 2018,” Karma Hamu Dorjee stated in the notification.

RADA  was endorsed by the RCSC during its 145th Commission meeting held on July 12.