How to attempt ethics case study for GS paper 4 Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude

  • by Manoj K. Jha

After this Mains exam, dilemma for the ethics paper is over. However, one thing is proved that this paper will play very crucial role in the future too, especially the ethics case study section. Ethics case study section alone counts for 125 marks in the GS mains paper 4, demands highly inclusive answer. Here is an example of how to approach them.

Case Study
Mr. ‘A’, a resident of a village and a person below poverty line (BPL) has sought information from PIO of his gram panchayat regarding information of all farmers in that gram panchayat who are having 2 acres of land for the last 30 years. He had given a specific format in which columns like age, male/female have to be furnished. To compile the information, rigorous exercise is required, because the some of information is scattered in 5000 pages and the coat of information is 10,000=00.

Suppose you are PIO of the concerned gram panchayat. The following are some suggested options. Please evaluate the merits and demerits of each options and indicate (without necessarily restricting to the options below), what you would like to do giving proper reasons.

(a) You should proceed on leave and leave the matter to be dealt by your successor
(b) Prepare all relevant informations and details as asked for and deliver to the applicant free of charge because he is from a BPL category.
(c) Issue notice to the applicant and ask from him what is the purpose of these informations and tell him to personally examine the records and collect th informations which are needed.
(d) Refuse to furnish these informations, because it is wastage of govt. resources.

Evaluation of each of the options
(a) This appears to be convenient because one may be saved from facing a difficult problem. The successor may find a mechanism which might be practical convenient and in accordance with law. However, he may also buy time and wait for till PIO returns from leave. There is one more negative aspect of the action is that in the organization a strong message might go that PIO is escapist.
(b) The whole exercise will warrant using both man power and money as resources but there will be a satisfaction that applicant will be happy and so will be other people. But in this process there will be a disproportionate use of resources. If 10 such more RTI applications will be filed, the whole panchayat will have to divert its scarce resources. Other development and regulatory work of the Panchayat will suffer in the process.
(c) This options appears to be practical, as RTI has to serve some purpose. The person can visit the office and can examine the records. But he may questions, as to why the purpose of RTI has been asked.
(d) As it is very difficult to make ready information, PIO should refuse. The purpose of the act is to provide informations which are held by public authority. The public authority is not supposed to manufacture informations for applicant. However refusal by PIO without giving the option to applicant for inspection may invite punishment. On the basis of above it is clear that none of the above options is correct. PIO should request the applicant to visit the office and inspect the relevant records as per section
4(1) (b) × v of the RTI act. Public authority should ensure maximum suomotu disclosures. In-spite of this, if the applicant insists for voluminous informations in a particular format the PIO is well within his right to reject the request as per section 7(9) of the RTI Act.