Sympathy vs Duty – UPSC Ethics Case Study

You are working as Superintendent of jail. A politician convicted of rape and murder who has already served 2 years in jail is under severe depression. His wife is on death bed due to cancer. He requests you to allow him to see his wife at his home one last time before she dies. He was a high profile politician and has lots of enemies in the opposition party. Your wife, who is a social worker, after coming to know about convict’s request, requests you to allow him to see his wife once subverting court procedures.

Will you follow your wife’s suggestion? Justify (100 Words)
If you follow your wife’s suggestion, what are the likely consequences that you might face? Enumerate. (100 Words)
a) The facts of the case are that the politician has been convicted by the court in a very grave offense of rape and murder. In such a scenario, unilaterally allowing the criminal leniency would not be justifiable. Hence, I would not accept the request of my wife.
  1. This would create a dangerous precedent where other criminals would also cite pressing reasons for such dispensation.
  2. This would also be against the principles of equality.
I would instead suggest that the convict approach the court for parole. I would give that a favourable endorsement based upon his behaviour in jail and then facilitate his visit if given parole. However, in absence of any court order, I would not accept his request.
b) The likely consequences of accepting any such request are as follows –
  1. Since this would be a gross violation of duty, strict disciplinary actions even extending upto termination of service might take place.
  2. Even without any enquiry, this would leave the SP vulnerable to blackmail by other prisoners and hence would lose moral authority.
  3. In a worst case scenario, the convict could escape while illegally out of jail. This would be a gross miscarriage of justice and could even lead to criminal charges against the SP.
While there can be a justifiable reason for showing sympathy for the convict, it has to be kept in mind that the current situation is of his own making. His conviction for heinous offenses like rape and murder militate against taking a very sympathetic approach. Hence, any such step has to be recommended by a court to be justified.



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