Ethics Case Study #1

You are newly posted as a District Collector. The district is heavily populated, poor and has large amounts of money for social welfare schemes. As a young bureaucrat, you have been firefighting to get work done, maintain law and order, disburse funds for social welfare, speeding up opening of accounts prevent leakages in govt schemes, fair award of government tenders, representing administration in cases before the High Court and Lokayukta and tending to VIP visits on a bi-monthly visits. You also have to deal with dozens of directives, circulars, and notices from Central and State government.

You are assisted in your job by a team of Deputy Collectors.You have called a district level meeting of all officers. Your assistant brings to you a letter from the National Commission of Human Rights. The letter is addressed to your office and requires a reply from you by 4PM of the same day.

The NHRC has come across a case where a poor widow has complained that her land has been encroached on by the village pramukh, who has built a cattle shed over it. The widow has complained to block, sub division and district level officers, but to no avail.

The NHRC has sought if it is true and what action your office will take to redress the injustice done.

You have very less time, since you cannot personally visit the village , and find out the facts for yourself. You seek the opinion of three Deputy Collectors who sit before you.

Hriday Ram is a young Deputy Collector, who is very hard working , diligent and sympathetic to the poor. He comes from a very humble background and made it to the State Services and does his work honestly. He also shows great sympathy for poor people and takes their case often, be it payments for MNREGS wages, or benefits
under IAY.

When asked, Mr. Ram says, – Sir, it is quite likley that the Pramukh may have done something like this. He is anyway a dominant person in the village has slightly criminal antecedents. The widow must be issueless, and so the parmukh may have thought of usurping her land.

M. Pandey,  is in-charge of the block to which the village belongs. You ask Mr. Pandey, of his opinion. Mr. Pandey replies – Sir, the pramukh keeps coming to the Collector’s Office. There have been no complains against him from his area till date. He is also very co-operative. I do not think he must have done it. The elections are closeby, so it is likely that his opponents must have instigated the old woman to file a written complaint against the pramukh . I dont think that the old woman is literate enough to shoot a letter to NHRC , especially when she is issue-less.

You trust Mr.Pandey more as he is both experienced as well as in-charge of the block to which the complainant belongs. You are in a fix over what to do as the time for meeting the deadline is approaching fast.

(a) Identify the pros and cons of the opinions provided by your subordinates

(b) What will be your course of action? Why?