Conflict of Interest
- A conflict of interest (COI) is a situation in which a person or organization is involved in multiple interests, financial interest, or otherwise, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation of the individual or organization.
- A conflict of interest is a situation that has the potential to undermine the impartiality of a person because of the possibility of a clash between the person’s self-interest and professional interest or public interest.
- A conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgement or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest. Primary interest refers to the principal goals of the profession or activity, such as the protection of clients, the health of patients, the integrity of research, and the duties of public office. Secondary interest includes not only financial gain but also such motives as the desire for professional advancement and the wish to do favours for family and friends.
- The secondary interests are not treated as wrong in themselves, but become objectionable when they are believed to have greater weight than the primary interests. The conflict in a conflict of interest exists whether or not a particular individual is actually influenced by the secondary interest. It exists if the circumstances are reasonably believed (on the basis of past experience and objective evidence) to create a risk that decisions may be unduly influenced by secondary interests.
- The presence of a conflict of interest is independent of the occurrence of impropriety. Therefore, a conflict of interest can be discovered and voluntarily defused before any corruption occurs.For Example: When a government official has a personal monetary interest in a matter up for vote, it is best for the official to abstain from voting to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
- In an organizational setup there can arise a situation when the organization goals and objectives do not remain in sync with the personal goals of its employee in question. This is also called conflict of interest. For Example:
1. Person’s conscience does not allow him to act in a manner his organization wants him to act eg shooting a person in encounter might be against personal ethics of the officer.
2. Person’s beliefs eg religious notions and customs might come against his professional course of action eg approving application of a homosexual person.
3. Person’s greed/selfish motives might supersede the organizational goals – eg son of public servant working in an organization where govt has majority stakes.
Q. What is the view of the Supreme Court of India on the cases of “conflict of interest‟ at high public offices? Do you think there should be a law to punish individuals involved in such cases?