Bending The Law – UPSC Ethics Case Study

Your close friend who recently retired as a secretary in the Ministry of Health was known for his brutal honesty and personal integrity. He was respected for his knowledge and vast experience in various policy matters. Because of some inevitable circumstances, he had to bend rules to favour an industrialist which would benefit his chain of medical colleges and pharma companies. Your friend had done so at the behest of his political boss who was also known for his honesty and uprightness. Your friend and his political boss were both good friends with the industrialist. As it was just a small tweak in the law and as both were about to retire, they had made small favour at their friend’s request. But recently, the matter has come out in the public and sensationalised in media as a big scandal. A court has issued summons to your friend, his boss and the industrialist to appear before the court in the case. Many of their colleagues have come out in open supporting all the three and condemning the court summons as political conspiracy by the new government.

a) Do you support your friend at this moment? Justify why. (150 Words)
b) Is there a difference between “bendingthe law and “breaking the law? Are both ethical? Critically examine with suitable examples. (150 Words)
a) The position of my friend as secretary holds much importance given the public interest involved. With entire experience of his life as public servant and with honesty and personal integrity I expect my friend to learn to manage such situations of pressure from political bosses and personal relations. But no matter how circumstances are, tweaking of law for a favour is against public interest where the honest tax payer, students, educational institutions, pharma companies are involved is no less than a crime. Just to hold the friendship with political boss and industrialist, personal morals and societal ethics and above all integrity in public service must not be at stake. I will not support my friend at this moment as the job in itself is indicating putting more of personal interest above the public interest which otherwise for a civil servant must be opposite. Serving people is a rare opportunity and learning to serve in adverse circumstances with honesty and integrity is utmost important and falling to the pressures is not an action to be supported.
b) Bending a law means interpreting the language of a law in a favourable way using the loopholes of the concerned law. Example: RTI act provides the right to information to citizen of India only. An applicant should certify that he is a citizen of India. But it remains absent in most of the RTI applications received by public authorities, still they provide information on good faith. Now, suppose due to heavy work load, if the public authority rejects any such RTI application on the said ground, it is not actually breaking the law, but bending the law.



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