Ethics IV

Delhi Law Academy


Gandhian Ideology

•            Gandhian ideology is the set of religious and social ideas adopted and developed by Mahatma Gandhi, first during his period in South Africa from 1893 to 1914, and later in India.

•            Gandhian philosophy is not only simultaneously political, moral and religious; it is also traditional and modern, simple and complex.

•            It embodies numerous Western influences to which Gandhiji was exposed, but is rooted in ancient Indian culture harnessing universal moral & religious principles.

•            The philosophy exists on several planes – the spiritual or religious, moral, political, economic, social, individual and collective.

o            The spiritual or religious element and God are at its core.

o            Human nature is regarded as fundamentally virtuous.

o            All individuals are believed to be capable of high moral development, and of reform.

o            Gandhian ideology emphasises not on idealism, but on practical idealism.

o            Gandhian philosophy is a double-edged weapon. Its objective is to transform the individual and society simultaneously, in accordance with the principles of truth and non-violence.

•            Gandhiji developed these ideologies from various inspirational sources vis Bhagvad Geeta, Jainism, Buddhism, Bible, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Tolstoy, John Ruskin among others.

•            Tolstoy’s book ‘The Kingdom of God is within you’ had a deep influence on Mahatma Gandhi.

•            Gandhiji paraphrased Ruskin’s book ‘Unto this Last’ as ‘Sarvodaya’.

•            These ideas have been further developed by later “Gandhians”, most notably, in India by, Vinoba Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayan and outside of India by Martin Luther King Jr. and others.

Major Gandhian Ideologies

•            Truth and nonviolence

o            They are the twin cardinal principles of Gandhian thoughts.

o            For Gandhi ji, truth is the relative truth of truthfulness in word and deed, and the absolute truth – the ultimate reality. This ultimate truth is God (as God is also Truth) and morality – the moral laws and code – its basis.

o            Nonviolence, far from meaning mere peacefulness or the absence of overt violence, 1is understood by Mahatma Gandhi to denote active love – the pole opposite of violence, in every sense. Nonviolence or love is regarded as the highest law of humankind.

•            Satyagraha

Gandhi ji called his overall method of nonviolent action Satyagraha. It means the exercise of the purest soul-force against all injustice, oppression and exploitation.

It is a method of securing rights by personal suffering and not inflicting injury on others.

The origin of Satyagraha can be found in the Upanishads, and in the teachings of Buddha, Mahavira and a number of other greats including Tolstoy and Ruskin.

•            Sarvodaya

Sarvodaya is a term meaning ‘Universal Uplift’ or ‘Progress of All’. The term was first coined by Gandhi ji as the title of his translation of John Ruskin’s tract on political economy, “Unto This Last”.

•            Swaraj

Although the word swaraj means self-rule, Gandhi ji gave it the content of an integral revolution that encompasses all spheres of life.

For Gandhi ji, swaraj of people meant the sum total of the swaraj (self-rule) of individuals and so he clarified that for him swaraj meant freedom for the meanest of his countrymen. And in its fullest sense, swaraj is much more than freedom from all restraints, it is self-rule, self-restraint and could be equated with moksha or salvation.

•            Trusteeship

Trusteeship is a socio-economic philosophy that was propounded by Gandhi ji.

It provides a means by which the wealthy people would be the trustees of trusts that looked after the welfare of the people in general.

This principle reflects Gandhiji’s spiritual development, which he owed partly to his deep involvement with and the study of theosophical literature and the Bhagavad Gita.

•            Swadeshi

The word swadeshi derives from Sanskrit and is a conjunction of two Sanskrit words. ‘Swa’ means self or own and ‘desh’ means country. So swadesh means one’s own country. Swadeshi, the adjectival form, means of one’s own country, but can be loosely translated in most contexts as self-sufficiency.

Swadeshi is the focus on acting within and from one’s own community, both politically and economically.

It is the interdependence of community and self-sufficiency.

•            Gandhi ji believed this would lead to independence (swaraj), as British control of India was rooted in control of her indigenous industries. Swadeshi was the key to the independence of India, and was represented by the charkha or the spinning wheel, the “center of the solar system” of Mahatma Gandhi’s constructive program.

Relevance of Gnahian Philosophy  in Today’s Context

•            The ideals of truth and nonviolence, which underpin the whole philosophy, are relevant to all humankind, and are considered as universal by the Gandhians.

•            More than ever before, Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings are valid today, when people are trying to find solutions to the rampant greed, widespread violence, and runaway consumptive style of living.

•            Gandhian technique of mobilising people has been successfully employed by many oppressed societies around the world under the leadership of people like Martin Luther King in the United States, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar, which is an eloquent testimony to the continuing relevance of Mahatma Gandhi.

•            Dalai Lama said, “We have a big war going on today between world peace and world war, between the force of mind and force of materialism, between democracy and totalitarianism.” It is precisely to fight these big wars that the Gandhian philosophy needed in contemporary times.


•            Gandhian ideologies shaped the creation of institutions and practices where the voice and perspective of everyone can be articulated, tested and transformed.

According to him, democracy provided the weak with the same chance as the strong.

•            Functioning on the basis of voluntary cooperation and dignified & peaceful co-existence was replicated in several other modern democracies. Also, his emphasis on political tolerance and religious pluralism holds relevance in contemporary Indian politics.

•            Truth, nonviolence, Sarvodaya and Satyagraha and their significance constitute Gandhian philosophy and are the four pillars of Gandhian thought.



•            The Bhagavad Gita (literal meaning ‘the songs of the Lord‘) is one of the celebrated sacred works of Hindus. Considered as an important piece of Smriti literature, the Gita is narrated by Sanjay to the blind king Dhritarashtra and it contains seven hundred verses spread over eighteen chapters or discoverers.

•            The word ‘ethics’ comes from the Greek word ‘ethikos’. It refers to one’s moral character and the way in which society expects people to behave in accordance with accepted principles. Most philosophers conclude that ethical failure occurs because of lack of character.

•            In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna imparts to Arjuna wisdom, the path to devotion, and the doctrine of selfless action. Krishna tells Arjuna not only how to build character but also the root cause of ethical failure and how to avoid it.

Role of Bhagavad Gita in Administration:

•            Bhagavad Gita is one of the earliest texts in any tradition to emphasize that it is important not just to do one’s duty, but to do it in a certain kind of way; i.e., with detachment.

•            The principle of world- welfare provides the basis for assessing the nature of an administrator’s duty in a changing world, even when faced with competing duties as in the case of moral dilemmas.

•            Gita’s virtue theory also emphasizes virtues that are indispensable for righteous administration.

•            Virtues such as

  • an unagitated mind (amivignamanas)
  • firm mindedness (prajiia pratisthitd)
  • disinterestedness (anapeksas, uddslnas)
  • contentment with one’s own duty (svakramaniratas)
  • indifference to pleasure and pain (samaduhkhasusukhas)
  • being the same towards friend and enemy (samah satrau ca mitre ca) and
  • towards honour and disgrace (inanapamanayos)

allow an administrator to perform his/her duty in most ethical manner.

•            Through the concept of dharma, Gita also identifies the essential ideas and governing principles of our cultural life and through karma yoga & jnana yoga, also identifies course of action for man’s search for eternal which is the source of truth and joy.

•            The Bhagavad-Gita advocates a consciousness and a spirit-centered approach to the subject of ethics based on eternal values and moral principles that should govern the conduct of administrators. The teachings, Krishna outlined to Arjuna form a system of ethics that has withstood the test of time.

•            Few of the important teaching/concepts from Gita that have direct role in administration have been detailed as under.

Desired personal qualities to cultivate

•            Krishna outlines 26 qualities of a gentleman – to be merciful, obedient, truthful, equitable, saintly, magnanimous, mild-mannered, clean, simple, charitable and peaceful. He should have surrendered to God and not be greedy or possessive but remain steady and determined, free of the six bad qualities, not gluttonous, sober, respectful, humble, grave, compassionate, friendly, eloquent, expert and concise.

•            In Gita, Krishna also outlines how to cultivate and maintain these qualities. He says to maintain good character, we must overcome kama, that is, lust or selfish desire.

•            Kama means not just sexual craving, but it simply refers to an overwhelming desire for anything, such as lust for power. Greed, dishonesty and corruption are all by-products of lust. To build character one must control lust.

Discharge of duty without favour or fervor

•            When Arjun got depressed by the sight of the warriors who were all his friends, teachers, relatives and refused to fight, Krishna using the concept of body and soul justifies the war and even killing of one’s own people through the art of discharging one’s duties. He asks Arjun to discharge his bounden duty without any regard for pain or pleasure which arises from it.

•            Similarly in administration, it is important that officers occupying position discharge their duty without any consideration of personal affection. Hence one should rise above the pretty material interests and act with an unprejudiced mind devoid of all attachments.

•            According to Bhagavad Gita the highest form of Swajdharma (one’s faith), concerned with a self-less duty towards the rest.

Become Rajashri through Yoga

•            Bhagavad Gita desires an administrator to be a combination of a raja and a rishi i.e. synthesis of selflessness and saintliness.

•            He should not only discharge duties without considering feeling of personal affection such as friend or relative but also should behave like a rishi i.e. no consideration for personal gain.

•            When one combines power and social responsibility with the strength arising from character, clear thinking, dedication, and practical efficiency, one effects in oneself this unique synthesis of the rajashri.

•            In the opening three verses of the Bliagavad Gita (4.1-3), lord Krishna also highlights Yoga as means to attain this stature of Rajashri.

One has the right to work, but never to the fruit of work

•            There are four aspects to the definition of work that Krishna articulates:

•            Here Krishna advises Arjuna to detach from being concerned with whether or not the duty bound action is successful or what rewards he will get, instead he should prepare himself to perform the action to the best of his ability.

•            In contemporary times an administrator has to orients oneself toward realization of task by acting in accordance with one’s duty (dharma) without consideration of personal self-cantered desires, likes or dislikes. One needs to act without being attached to the fruits of one’s deeds.

Sva-dharma & Loka Samgraha

•            Sva-dharma means literally “own dharma” and has been translated as “own duty” and “particular responsibilities.” Sva-dharma is unique to that person because everyone has different capacities for righteousness. Loka-samgraha, which could etymologically be analyzed as ‘holding’ (from grah, to grasp) ‘together’ (sam) ‘the world’ (loka), include selfishness action done for public good. According to Bhagavad Gita, the highest form of Sva-dharma (one’s faith) is performing self-less duty towards the rest or Lokasamgraha.


•            The message of Bhagavad Gita is that either you can perform your actions with attachment thinking that you are the doer or you can perform the same without attachment by thinking that God/

•            Nature (Prakriti) is performing the actions. This unattached performance of actions has been called Yagya or Karma Yog in the Gita, which will not only fulfill all desires but will also transform us and make us one with God.

Case Studies on Ethics


You are District Magistrate of a flood-prone district. The flood control department has allocated forty crore rupees for building embankments in the low lying area of the river bed. There have been various complaints from locals over the delay in project completion, violations of rules and misuse of funds by the nexus of politicians and contractors.

During monsoon, the embankment construction couldn’t withstand a single season of flooding. This has led to the submergence of many villages in floodwater and thousands of people are trapped in the villages. The villages are completely cut off and there is a scarcity of food and drinking water. Due to water stagnation, there is also a risk of epidemic spread in the region.

There is huge discontent and protest over the allegation of corruption against the local politician. As he is a popular face of ruling political party in the state, there is severe pressure from political heads to cover the corruption issue. Defying the orders of political bosses will bring wrath towards you and may also lead to transfer.

As a District Magistrate what will be your course of action to manage the situation in the district.

Identify the various dimensions of the crisis involved in the issue. Based on your understanding, suggest measures to deal with the crisis.

Facts of the case

  • Floods due to failure of recently constructed embankment.
  • Severe condition of people trapped in the submerged villages.
  • Protest over allegations of corruption.
  • Political pressure to cover up the issue.

Stakeholders involved

  • Villagers
  • Contractor
  • Politician
  • Self (District Magistrate)


  • Leadership
  • Courage
  • Fortitude
  • Compassion
  • Accountability
  • Honesty
  • Trust

Course of action

1.           Initiate a rescue operation and ensuring the availability of food, medicines and drinking water.            

  • Preventing loss of lives should be of utmost priority.
  • Children and women are the worst sufferers of any such disaster. They need to be immediately rescued.
  • District Magistrate must have responsibility to ensure supply of all essential materials.

2.           Assessing the severity of the situation and reaching out to disaster response forces.

  • State Disaster Response Force (SDRF)/National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have appropriate experience of handling flood situations.

3.           Persuading locals not to protest and cooperate with government officials.           

  • Making the locals understand that immediate need is to rescue the stranded people.
  • Local youth can help in locating stranded people.
  • They can even help in calming down others with no confidence on government due to corruption allegations.

4.           Forming a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into charges of corruption.      

  • Knowing and understanding of the facts would help in pursuing the case further.
  • SIT report can be used in subverting any political pressure.

5.           Taking strict action against wrongdoers.       

  • People involved must be identified and held accountable for failure of the embankment.

6.           Flood prevention, mitigation and adaptation.          

  • Since the area is in the flood-prone region, it is the administration’s duty to make it safer for the people.

Measures to deal with the crisis

  • The District Magistrate must show spirit of service and conviction to ensure justice to the people. He must work tirelessly for their rescue and rehabilitation and ensuring that strict action is taken against the culprits.
  • Ensuring legal justice by ensuring that those guilty must be punished. Contractor and politicians involved must face trial in a court of law.
  • Taking confidence building measures to regain the trust of people on the government. Special schemes should be initiated for creating livelihood opportunities and for the education of children affected by floods.
  • Long term measures for flood prevention, mitigation and adaptation should be taken. Embankments and flood resistant structures must be built after scientific analysis.
  • Local people must be made aware about their rights and sense of duty towards ensuring good governance. ‘Citizen centric governance’ must be the way forward as recommended by the 2nd ARC report. Mechanisms like social audits should be made mandatory for such projects.


You are posted as an additional superintendent of police in a district. The incidents of lynching over the rumours of child lifting have increased in the state in past few months.

Recently, one such incident took place at the Government hospital, where two brothers who had taken their nephew to a doctor for treatment were misjudged and attacked by the mob over suspicion of child lifting.

The police rushed to the spot after receiving the information and rescued the brothers. However, one of them was declared dead on arrival at the hospital. The deceased person was as a young leader and potential candidate for the upcoming Panchayat elections.

The locals from the nearby village along with the relatives of the deceased person are protesting and accusing police of negligence. They are claiming the incident as a planned political murder and demanding for arrest of the rival candidate who has strong political backing.

(a) Identify the stakeholders and various dimensions of the crisis involved in the issue.

(b) What would be the course of action taken by you to manage the situation as an additional superintendent of police? Suggest the measures to deal with the incident lynching.

Stakeholders involved

  • The two brothers (victims)
  • Victims’ family
  • People in the mob
  • Local politician
  • Self – Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP)
  • Civil Society
  • Government

Ethical values

  • Social justice
  • Rationality
  • Compassion
  • Forgiveness
  • Empathy
  • Leadership
  • Impartiality

Course of action

1.           Providing medical support to the survivor.

  • Preventing loss of life should be of utmost priority.
  • Humanity must guide all formal procedures.

2.           Persuading locals not to protest and cooperate in the investigation.             

  • Locals must be taken into confidence about the fairness of the investigation.
  • It is the duty of the ASP to ensure that people do not turn violent.

3.           Forming a team to investigate the case.        

  • Knowing and understanding of the facts would help in pursuing the case further.
  • It gives an opportunity to identify any political conspiracy.

4.           Taking strict action against wrongdoers.       

  • People involved must be identified and held accountable for the lynching.

5.           Increasing vigilance to prevent further violence.      

  • Regular monitoring of the local area is needed to ensure there is no further violence.

Measures to deal with the crisis

  • Providing legal justice: By ensuring that those guilty must be punished. People involved must face trial in a court of law.
  • Rehabilitation of lynching victims’ family: Taking confidence building measures to regain trust of victims on the government and justice delivery system.
  • Awareness generation: People must be sensitised about compassion and respect for human lives as inalienable attributes of Indian society.
    • We need to adhere to the Gandhian idea of Ahimsa which involves showing love to mankind and all living beings.
  • Long term measures like framing laws on the lines of ‘The Rajasthan Protection from Lynching Bill, 2019’ should be enacted to create deterrence towards such crimes.
  • Addressing child lifting issue: Police must increase vigilance by taking the help of local level intelligence gathering and identifying criminal rackets involved in such crimes.


You are a Municipal Corporation Commissioner of your city which is under heavy rainfall over the last few days. The boundary wall of one of the housing society collapses. The incident took place at midnight, leading to the death of 12 workers, including two children, sleeping in the shade beside the wall.

On the preliminary inquiry, it has been found that inspite of inappropriate soil conditions, the permission to construct wall was given by previous Municipal Commissioner, who happens to be your close friend. Also, irregularities in construction material have been found and the other officials in the department are trying to influence or manipulate you. The whole scenario seems like a nexus between the officials of the municipal department and builder. However, the builder is a close relative of one of the most powerful leaders of the party in power and is trying to threaten you.

(A) What are the ethical issues involved and the options available to you in such a situation?

(B) Also, suggest a course of action you would like to follow.

Case and Facts

  • Loss of human lives due to wall collapse.
  • Quality of construction material not ensured and checked by officials involved.
  • The permitting officer (previous Municipal Commissioner) is my close friend.
  • Pressure from colleagues and political party in power.

Stakeholders Involved

  • The victims
  • Previous Municipal Commissioner
  • Colleagues
  • Self
  • Builder

Issues Involved

  • Neglect of human dignity, no regard to the lives of poor people.
  • Personal v/s professional relations: It would be difficult to investigate a close friend.
  • Political pressure v/s carrying out one’s duty to take action against the builder.

Options available are

  • Initiating disciplinary action as well as proper criminal proceedings against the wrongdoers.
    • This will ensure justice as well as an opportunity for fair procedure in a court of law.
    • However, it would be challenging and detrimental for personal growth in the bureaucracy in the long run.
  • Allowing matter to calm down and letting police to investigate the case.
    • This would maintain good relations with the department members as well as the previous Commissioner, while simultaneously adhering to the wishes of political party leader.
    • However, this would create dissonance and affect mental peace as the conscience would not allow loss of justice to the victims.

Course of Action

  • Providing immediate medical support and compensation to the victims should be the utmost priority.
  • Analysing the evidence of corruption, cross checking and verifying them.
    • This will help to avoid any false or mistaken allegations.
  • Following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of disciplinary action and report it to the concerned higher authority.
    • Dissociating self from the investigation as friendship with previous Commissioner might influence the proceedings and create a conflict of interest.
    • This would help avoid conflict of interest; ensure integrity, transparency and good governance.
    • This would also help in breaking the nexus between the builder and the department members creating a deterrence effect.
  • Initiate legal proceedings against the builder along with corrupt members of the department and not letting the political pressure affect the following SOPs.
  • Finally, taking long term steps to reform the administration to avoid such instances in the future.
    • As the head of the organization, one must be answerable and accountable to ensure transparency in future construction contracts.
    • Social audits must be encouraged for effective governance.


  • The decision in such cases should not be based on friendly relations with colleagues. Probity and integrity should guide the decision in this case.
    • The Municipal Commissioner must show courage of conviction, leadership and fortitude. The situation demands ethical neutrality of Max Weber so that personal relation is kept aside and civil service values are adhered.
  • Respect for human life is much above friendship and avarice for bureaucratic gains.
    • As quoted by John Rawls in his theory of Justice, “Rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or calculus of social interests.” Thus, ensuring social justice should be the prime responsibility of the Municipal Commissioner.


You are the team lead in a project. Your junior Mr. A, in the team is an extremely hard working and a productive individual who always completes his assignments on time. However of late, it has been brought to your notice that Mr. A has been misbehaving with Mrs. X who is a junior to him in the team. Mrs. X approaches you and apprises you of her uncomfortable situation in the team. According to her, Mr. A has been making advances towards her in the wrong way and on occasions has even asked her out for dinner which she disapproved of. Mrs. X demands immediate action against Mr. A. How will you proceed and what actions will you take to resolve the crisis?


  • The situation is one of alleged sexual harassment at the workplace which, if proved true, will portray the company in poor light, thereby affecting its credibility and profitability in the long run. A sense of insecurity might creep in among other female employees of the companies, thus hampering the team spirit.
  • An independent panel must be immediately set up having women members on its board to probe the allegations impartially. Guidelines regarding the same have been laid down by the Supreme Court in Vishakha case as well as under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act. In order to ease the situation, Mrs. x should be transferred from Mr. A’s team citing reasons like team restructuring.
  • Since Mr. A is a competent employee, therefore, unless proven guilty one cannot initiate serious penal measures against him. However, while the investigation process, Mr. A can be asked to stay (after speaking to him on the same) on leave as a cautionary measure.
  • One can also inquire at personal level to find about the behavioral pattern of Mr. A from other female employees of the company. If the investigation committee finds Mr. A as guilty, one should immediately terminate him and not to be much concerned about his skills and efficiency as excellence and productively can be easily bought in the market, but not the credibility. Besides respecting women is a cardinal principle on which no compromise is thinkable.
  • However, if the charges are proved wrong, one should immediately reinstate Mr. A and apologize personally to him. Also penal actions should be taken against Mrs. X. In the long run one should get CCTV cameras installed at the workplace and even appoint women group leaders in the team so as to send a strong message to women in the organization that gender is no bar to being promoted. One can also send a note to the company to organise gender sensitisation camps to build awareness about female rights among other employees.


A seasoned criminal with many murder charges on him has escaped from a jail. There is a likelihood that he will kill more people while he is on the run.

Mr. A who is the police inspector in the area has found links to trace the criminal’s presence in his area. Mr. A has a reputation of a being an encounter specialist since he doesn’t believe much in the efficacy of judicial trials as they are time consuming. It is likely that Mr. A will do the same this time. His subordinates, though, disapprove of encounter killings as a routine measure, dare not oppose him due to hierarchical pressure. A constable Mr. C doesn’t want to participate in the encounter operation, but due to the fear of being terminated he is left with no choices.

Given the above situation, consider the following questions:

What are the moral issues involved in this situation?

Though encounter killing is legally valid is it morally correct too? If yes, how?

How is Mr. C participating in the encounter morally valid?


The moral issues involved in the above situation are:

  • The right to life and fair justice, even for a seasoned criminal.
  • The extent to which humanitarian concerns can be bypassed so as to maintain law and order.
  • An individual being forced to participate in a specific work against his/her voice of conscience.
  • The culture of extra-judicial killings in a just society.
  • An individual’s (in power) discretion to determine the type of justice to be given to a criminal.
  • Encounter Killing is not legally correct as even in the case of Ajmal Kasab, he was tried and when proven guilty then hanged. Extra-judicial killings can be validated only on grounds of self-defence, killing in warfare or in extreme cases to protect lives of innocent people and to maintain law and order. The Indian judicial system discourages such killings even for Army and the court-marshal of the officers involved in Pathribal killings (2000) enunciate it more strongly. In the Indian administrative setup, police officers are like shields for innocent people and the sword of justice lies with the judiciary.
  • Even morally it is not right, as it sets a wrong precedent for the future and in the future, even innocent under trials might be killed to close a case or as a case of revengeful killing. Further, as Mahatma Gandhi had said, “An eye for an eye makes the world blind.” Thus, the killing doesn’t necessarily end crime in a society.
  • The participation of the constable in the operation is valid on following moral grounds.
    • As a public servant, he must submit all his inclinations to the call of duty.
    • In this case the virtue of integrity, i.e., his faithfulness to the organization must be given more importance than his voice of conscience.
    • If he refuses to participate, it will adversely affect the overall morale in the team.
    • His condition of service demands that he should follow orders from his superiors without complaint.


You are the Superintendent of Police (SP) in the district where instances of honour killing are rampant. One day you receive a phone call from a girl informing you of the potential threat to her and her partners’ life from her family as she has decided to marry a boy belonging to a lower caste. Moreover, the local police station is not filing the FIR or granting them protection. You ask her to visit your office but she demands police protection to come out from the hideout as her father’s goons are chasing her.

On further inquiry, you come to know that the girl is the daughter of one of the most powerful Minister of the State and both girl and boy are legally eligible to get married. The family is concerned about the family prestige due to the lower caste of the boy and also of the financial stability of marriage as they both are unemployed. You are under extreme political pressure to charge the boy of kidnapping the girl or else face the consequences.

In such circumstances, point out the ethical dilemma faced by you and options available to you. Also, chalk out the course of action you would prefer to follow.

Facts of the case:

  • Possibility of honour killing mainly due to non-acceptability of inter-caste marriage.
  • Couple legally eligible to get married.
  • Concerns of financial stability of the marriage.
  • Local police not filing the FIR.
  • Extreme political pressure of filing a false case against the boy.

Stakeholders involved

  • The couple
  • Politician-father of the girl
  • Local communities
  • Self (Superintendent of Police-SP)


  • Tolerance
  • Humanism
  • Leadership
  • Courage
  • Social justice

Ethical dilemmas

  • Personal v/s professional ethics: Adhering to the demands of political leaders by not providing protection to the couple or following legal duty to provide safety and security to the couple.
  • Following social norms v/s ethical norms: Accepting inter-caste marriage is not socially acceptable but moral standards suggest allow the couple to exercise their free will.

Options available:

Option A

  • Allowing the communities to handle the situation themselves.       


  • Meeting expectations of the political leaders.


  • Against the fundamental rights of the couple. Going against the Constitutional ethos.
  • Putting lives of the couple at risk.
  • May disturb law and order situation.

Option B

  • Providing police protection to the couple and following standard legal procedures.


  • Opportunity to show administrative leadership.
  • Showing impartial attitude of administration.
  • Avoiding moral dissonance.


  • May lead to political backlash against the SP.
  • Risk to lives of the couple once police protection is removed.
  • Police administration may face the wrath of local community leaders.

Option (2) should be the correct approach to handle the situation.

Course of action

1.           Initiating preliminary inquiry and validating the facts           

  • Knowing about the circumstances would give an opportunity to better understand the viewpoints of the couple, the community members and the local police officers.
  • It would make sure that there are no vicious motives or any political conspiracy.
  • This would avoid taking any extreme step under false information.

2.           Filing FIR and providing police protection     

  • Protecting the lives of the couple should be of utmost priority.

3.           Providing legal, financial and moral support to the couple 

  • It is the duty of the administration to provide safety and security to the citizens.
  • Also, the couple must be counseled about their financial and moral responsibilities post marriage.

4.           Convincing their parents and community members.             

  • Parents and community members must be initially convinced about the need to respect their children’s individual freedom.
  • They must be given strict warning not to indulge in any form of violence.

5.           Initiating awareness drive against casteism and honour killing        

  • There is need to make the citizens realize that casteism and honor killing are not just illegal but social evils as well.

Measures to deal with the crisis

  • Initiate steps for attitudinal change to reduce caste prejudices, abolish untouchability and spread the values of liberty, equality, fraternity, etc in the society.
  • Utilizing Dr Ambedkar scheme for social integration through inter-caste marriages to extend financial incentive to the couple to enable them to settle down in the initial phase of their married life.
  • The SP must show spirit of service and conviction to ensure justice to the couple. He must ensure that a safe and secure environment is created in the district so that no one should fear of moral policing.
  • Taking confidence building measures to regain the trust of people on the administration.
  • The false notions of honour and pride are so deep rooted that people even forget the social bonds of love and emotions with their own children. Thus, the attitudinal change programmes must target the revival of social bonds and realizing them about need to give respect to human lives and compassion.


You are a government official. One day you find out that your subordinate is infected with HIV. Before you could stop the news from spreading, it had already become a topic of discussion among other members of the office. Now, they are pressuring you to suspend, sack or transfer him as they fear that his presence in the office might lead to other members getting contaminated with the virus. You try to make them understand that HIV does not spread from touching, but they are so sceptic and scared that they refuse to even listen to your reasoning. They all decide to not work till the HIV positive employee. Your office is already under a lot of work pressure and in the next week you are to finish some work within a deadline. How will you tackle this problem? Elaborate the steps that you will take to handle it.


This situation deals more with an implementation problem of a decision (already in mind) and not with taking a decision. We must keep in mind that HIV infected people also have the right to life and personal liberty as enumerated in Article 21 of Fundamental Rights. Based on this, they cannot be deprived of a dignified life. It has been established beyond doubt that HIV is not transmitted through air, food or water, and touch.

So, the demand of the members of the office is absolutely unreasonable. Besides being unreasonable their demand is also unethical as instead of social ostracization, the HIV affected must be supported in this time of personal crisis. Hence, any action against the HIV infected person is neither desirable nor legal. However, as a team lead, one has to maintain social cohesion in the team and try best to assuage any suspicion in the minds of the people.

Hence the following steps are desirable:

  • One can start by explaining the employees that a diseased person is to be empathized with and definitely not to be hated. To substantiate one’s arguments one can put forward few scientific researches in front of them to make them understand that they are not vulnerable to get infected.
  • In spite of the above if the employees persist with their stand then one can write to one’s seniors apprising of the situation and requesting to arrange an alternative team with similar skill sets so that they can complete the task.
  • In the mean time one can pass an executive order that the complaining employees have no option but to work with the current setup. Besides strict disciplinary action will be taken against all those who fail to comply with official orders.
  • In the meantime one can put all efforts to meet the deadline. One can try to organize medical educational camps to raise awareness.
  • To have a positive demonstrative effect, one can start by making the affected person sit next to oneself.


Ramesh, once a struggling theatre artist was accused and later freed from rape charges, which the jury found out to be ill conceived and wrongly targeted. Not able to handle the situation, he changed profession and moved on. Many years later, while his closest friends know about the incident, his co-workers do not. One day, out of curiosity, he surfs his personal records on the internet, and to his surprise, finds that the results reflect an old report in a local newspaper about the rape charges he faced.

Ramesh is upset; after all these years, he would like to be able to disclose the event only to whomever he wants. He has been informed about the decision of the European Court of Justice, which allows individuals to submit requests to a search engine to remove certain results from searches on their names, and citing the same, requests the search engine and media outlet to remove the results.

Valid arguments can be advanced for making the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ a fundamental right? What those arguments could be? What limitations, if any, can it be subjected to? Should there be any obligations on the search engines regarding cases, which are no longer relevant, as the one mentioned above?


The issues involved in the above case are:

  • The right to a life with dignity of an individual who has been absolved of all the charges in the past.
  • The responsibility of INTERNET search engines to present unbiased information even of past events while not infringing the right to privacy of an individual.
  • Fear of Ramesh to be dragged into his past on disclosure of facts through INTERNET and his right to be forgotten.
  • The application of extra-territorial laws in India.
  • The tendency in Indian society to stereotype individuals based on distorted facts or through misinterpretation of facts.

Based on the above mentioned issues, arguments can be presented to make Right to be forgotten a fundamental right. However, infringement of fundamentals right rests on actions by individuals or by the state. Thus, no action can be taken for stereotyping, hatred or biasness. Also for legal recording and for administrative purposes in future, records of settled cases must remain in the public domain.

Further people under Right to Information can easily extract such information when they require to do so. Thus internet can’t be barred from providing information. However, in settled cases, they can add this information along with related data so that anyone who surfs for the information must have full information on any incident. But in his private capacity Ramesh can apply to the government for making the above changes with respect to page authors or search engines


You are the Station House Officer of a police station. Recently, there has been a spurt in theft incidents in your area. Some of these incidents have occurred even during daytime. The Resident Welfare Association (RWA) has blamed the labourers, residing in night shelters for the crimes.

The night shelters are the result of an initiative by the police to help the homeless people to seek refuge from the biting cold at night. You have taken great pain to get these night-shelters up and running. The record of all those who stay in these night shelters, for instance, their names and identity proofs, is with the police. But the police has no information if any one of them has a criminal record.

Even as an investigation regarding the thefts is going on, the RWA members are demanding that these night shelters be dismantled and the labourers be driven away from their homes.

What are the options available to you?

Evaluate each option and suggest the best course of action.


As the Station House Officer of a police station, which is also the custodian of the night shelter, the options available are:

(i) Dismantle the night shelters as per the demands of the Residents Welfare Association.

(ii) Persuade the members to wait for the investigation reports before taking any decisive action.

(iii) Provide additional security in the affected area to assuage their discontent.

(iv) Summon all the labourers and threaten them of eviction if they don’t give the information they have of the thefts.

(v) Ignore the demands and continue with the investigation.

(vi) In the long run, seek the cooperation of the welfare association to strengthen the security arrangement of the area and also suggest the local urban development office or municipality to install CCTV cameras.

  • Option (i) would provide immediate relief, but in absence of any conclusive evidence it will be injustice to the displaced. Also the entire community cannot be punished for the wrongs of a few (even if it is later proved that some of shelter inmates are involved).
  • Option (ii) is difficult to achieve in view of the opposition, but it is desirable and also legal.
  • Option (iii) is not legal, but permissible if any link exists of the involvement of some of the labourers in the recent theft. However, the threat should be exercised only on prime suspect and must be limited to investigation.
  • Option (iv) is legally correct but morally wrong for a Station House Officer, one’s responsibility is also to address the genuine concerns of residents and keep the credibility of police intact.
  • Option (v) is applicable in the long run once the case is solved.

Since no conclusive evidence is available against the labourers, no legal action can be taken against them. One should begin an investigation immediately and till then take recourse to option (ii) i.e. talking with the association members and providing additional security to them. Once the case is solved the long run measures will be implemented.


You are posted as an SDM in a division of district which is undergoing ethnic turbulence since sometime. There has been a substantial loss of lives and property due to the disturbance, following which you are given implicit orders by the ruling party of the area to move a certain section of population, belonging to a particular ethnic group, out of the area to control the situation. This order has put you in a difficult position as it goes against your own ethical values of targeting a section of population and moving them out of their homes. However, not following the orders will be taken as dereliction of duty and will put the onus on you for the loss of lives.

A. In this situation, what are the options available to you?

B. In your opinion, what can be the most appropriate course of action and why? (250 words)


  • Explain the given case and the ethical dilemma faced.
  • Mention the options available with their merits and demerits.
  • Mention a course of action with explanation.

The given case poses a challenge to choose between political orders of evicting a particular ethnic group against personal ethical values of targeting a section of population and moving them out of their homes. It highlights the ethical dilemma between duty ethics and social justice.

Options available

Option (2) seems to be the correct method to handle the situation.

It is to be noted that evicting a particular group can be viewed by locals as targeting a specific community. This can encourage others to indulge in violent activity. Also, the order could be politically motivated without rational basis. Following such an order is not only against individual dignity but also against code of conduct of civil services.

Course of Action

As the SDM of the district, following could be the possible courses of action:

  • Perform first hand investigation of the ground reality and keep the political leadership informed about the gravity of the situation.
  • Foremost priority should be to control the law & order situation. Ensure safety/security of the people by:
    • Increased patrolling, deployment of force.
    • Adopting zero-tolerance against wrongdoers.
  • Persuade the political leaders to give some time to control the situation and convince them that forced eviction of the group could further deteriorate the conditions.
  • Use social influence/ persuasion
    • Directly talking to community leaders taking help from locally influential people, grassroot workers, NGOs, etc to convince people not to indulge in ethnic clashes.
    • Approach of saintliness and empathy to involve them to win their trust.

Further, once the situation is in control, long term steps should be initiated. Developing harmony among the groups and maintain strict vigilance to avoid any instance that could trigger further conflict. Panchayat leaders should be encouraged to convince people and maintain social harmony.

Thus, by taking into confidence the political leaders, and controlling the law and order situation could prevent loss of lives and property. This way one can fulfil his/her administrative duty without neglecting social justice simultaneously showing the objectivity and non-partisan attitude of administration.


You are a senior forest official who has recently been posted in a forest range which has a wildlife sanctuary and pilgrimage center of local hill tribes. The sanctuary is a famous trekking site, but is open only for males as the local tribal culture doesn’t permit the entry of women to the hill site housing their deity.

Recently, the State High Court has lifted this unofficial ban on women following which there has been pressure from women’s’ group to open the trekking site for all, while the local tribal group opposes the same. You fear that opening the site might lead to protest from tribals, compromising law and order situation and endanger the safety of trekkers to the site.

What are the options open to you in this scenario? Discuss along with their merits and demerits?

Which would be the most appropriate action that you would take in this situation and why?

The above case study reflects the following ethical dilemma:

  • Community interest vs Gender parity
  • Freedom of religion vs Right to equality

1. In this scenario the options that can be taken

Option 1: Ignore the High court order


  • Status quo will lead to stable law and order situation.
  • Sanctity of religious sentiments of tribals can be maintained.


  • It will lead to Contempt of court.
  • It will endorse the patriarchal mindset, that activities like trekking are masculine exercise.

Option 2: Try to persuade the tribals by myself.


  • It will uphold the tribal people’s right to decide themselves about their choice of settlement.


  • This option has very little chance to succeed, as the tribals are living with this religious narrative since ages.

Option 3: Implement the order, if tribals get violent, then the help of force should be taken


  • It will implement the court’s order and upheld the principle of gender equality.


  • It is against Teleological ethics as unethical means are used to lead to the desired end.
  • By making the tribals submit to the judicial process which they did not consent to is a broader injustice.

2. The course of action

Since it is a social issue, the mere legal solution is not enough, it requires emotional intelligence.

Steps that should be taken:

  • Involve civil society to undertake trust-building measures with the community.
  • Aware tribals about the law of the land, which guarantee gender equality
  • Police and other forces must be held on standby to avoid any escalation of the conflict.
  • Extension for executing the court’s order can be asked, so that issue can be resolved amicably.

However, patriarchal attitudes cannot be changed overnight, therefore:

  • Few Tribal leaders can be roped in for a campaign strategy for creating awareness.
  • This would persuade people because the source of the message will have more credibility than district administration.
  • The tribals should be educated about gender parity.
  • Community interest and Individual freedom should be balanced, but the human right to dignity cannot be compromised. This can be achieved through a socio-political movement which will raise the consciousness of the masses against the menace of patriarchy while maintaining the sanctity of tribal culture.