Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude 2013: Paper Analysis and Solution Section B (Part 1 of 3)


Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude 2013: Paper Analysis and Solution Section B (Part 1 of 3)


In the Following Questions, carefully study the cases presented and then answer the questions that follow:

Question 9 - A Public Information Officer has received an application under RTI Act. Having gathered the information, the PIO discovers that the information pertains to some of the decisions taken by him, which were found to be not altogether right. There were other employees also who were party to these decisions. Disclosure of the information is likely to lead to disciplinary action with possibility of punishment against him as well as some of his colleagues. Non-disclosure or part disclosure or camouflaged disclosure of information will result into lesser punishment or no punishment.

The PIO is otherwise an honest and conscientious person but his particular decision, on which the RTI application has been filed, turned out to be wrong. He comes to you for advice.

The following are some suggested options. Please evaluate the merits and demerits of each of the option:

  1. The PIO could refer the matter to his superior officer and seek his advice and act strictly in accordance with the advice, even though he is not completely in agreement with the advice of the superior.
  2. PIO could proceed on leave and leave the matter to be dealt by his successor in office or request for transfer of the application to another PIO.
  3. The PIO could weigh the consequences of disclosing the information truthfully including the effect on his career, and reply in a manner that would not place him or his career in jeopardy, but at the same time a little compromise can be made on the contents of the information.

  4. The PIO could consult his other colleagues who are party to the decision and take action as per their advice.

Also, please indicate (without necessarily restricting to the above options) what you would like to advise, giving proper reason. (250 words) 20 marks.


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Analysis-

The question can be a little complex. On the one hand, the person has committed some mistake for which he might face trouble; but, on the other hand, the person is honest and conscientious. Thus, taking a very strict action might not be practical as mistakes can happen by anyone. At the same time, it would be inappropriate to manipulate the information. Thus, you need to tackle the question tactfully.

Solution-

Option (i) might be resorted to, but there is a possibility that the superior might advice some unethical path, which would be unethical on the part of the PIO. Thus, it would be inappropriate to follow the advise the superior by word. PIO might take his advise but should judge the value of the same and act by his wit.

Option (ii) might as well be followed, as the PIO has a vested interest in the matter, and the constitution provides for the declaration of such vested interests, and transfer of the case, to ensure impartiality and effectiveness of justice. Thus, the PIO might declare his vested interest in the matter and ask for the transfer of the case of another PIO.

Option (iii) would be unethical on the part of the PIO. As a public functionary, his duty is to communicate the facts objectively. By manipulating the facts, in order to save himself, the PIO would commit an unethical and unprofessional act.

Option (iv) is contentious, as the colleagues might advice him to take an unethical path. Since the PIO is an honest and conscientious person, he shall rely on his principles to take an appropriate action.

Thus, it would be advisable for the PIO to declare his involvement in the matter to his superiors in written, and follow the appropriate directions.
 

Question 10- You are working as an Executive Engineer in the construction cell of a Municipal Corporation and are presently in-charge of the construction of a flyover. There are two Junior Engineers under you who have the responsibility of day-to-day inspection of the site and are reporting to you, while you are finally reporting to the Chief Engineer who heads the cell. While the construction is heading towards completion, the Junior Engineer have been regularly reporting that all construction is taking place as per design specifications. However, in one of your surprise inspections, you have noticed some serious deviations and lacunar which, in your opinion, are likely to affect the safety of the flyover. Rectification of these lacunae at this stage would require a substantial amount of demolition and rework which will cause a tangible loss to the contractor and will also delay completion. There is a lot of public pressure on the Corporation to get this construction completed because of heavy traffic congestion in the area. When you brought this matter to the notice of the Chief Engineer, he advised you that in his opinion it is not a very serious lapse and may be ignored. He advised for further expediting the project for completion in time. However, you are convinced that this was a serious matter which might affect public safety and should not be left unaddressed.

What will you do in such a situation? Some of the options are given below. Evaluate the merits and demerits of each of these options and finally suggest what course of action you would like to take, giving reasons. (250 words) 20 Marks

Follow the advice of the Chief Engineer and go ahead.

  1. Make an exhaustive report of the situation bringing out all facts and analysis along with your own viewpoints stated clearly and seek for written orders from the Chief Engineer.
  2. Call for explanation from the Junior Engineer and issue orders to the contractor for necessary correction within targeted time.
  3. Highlight the issue so that it reaches the superiors above the Chief Engineer.
  4. Considering the rigid attitude of the Chief Engineer, seek transfer from the project or report.


Analysis-

This is a very important issue, that often comes before the government employees. Here, the important issues involved are: whether to abide by the deadlines for the projects, or whether to protect the public interest, and prevent any possibility of an accident.

Solution-

Option (I) would be unethical to follow. Although it is in compliance with the norms of the organizational structure, but it violates the ethical principles. Since the project has been observed for severe lapses in quality, it is unwise to carry forward with it.

Option (ii) might be appropriate from a formal perspective, as it would make sure that the Chief Engineer has noticed the lacunae in the project, and still is ordering to carry on with it. This would save the concerned Executive Engineer from any implications. However, from an ethical point of view, it is highly unwise to carry on with the project.

Option (iii) is a plausible option, as the Junior Engineers, directing in-charge of the project should be called for explanation for the lapses in the project. Also, all possible moves shall be made to make sure that the project is completed in a stipulated timeframe. The contractor should also be dealt with strictly, and held answerable for the shortcomings in the quality standards.

Option (iv) might be resorted in case the Chief Engineer is adamant about going on with the project. Since there would be no option left, if the Chief Engineer is adamant about his decision, the Executive Engineer would have to approach the superiors with a detailed report.

Option (v) would be an attempt to escape from the problem, while ignoring one's moral responsibility. Thus, it would be unethical on the part of the Executive Engineer to run away from his duty.

An ethical, and required course of action would be to halt the project immediately, and make the preparations for the re-work. Since the matter involves public safety, it cannot be left to chances. Any outburst from the public shall be dealt appropriate. Also, those responsible for the lapses in the project shall be dealt strictly.


The Next article of the ETHICS SERIES would discuss more questions of the Section B of the Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude Paper 2013.
 

In the Meanwhile, please feel free to contact us for any confusion and query.
 

We wish the aspirants All the BEST!!
 

Team UPSCPORTAL
 

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