Ethics Case Studies (1 to 10)

Ethics Case Studies (1 to 10)

Case Study 1:

You are stranded in traffic in your car. You are driving the car. A poor girl looking very frail approaches you and start begging for money. Looking at he frail appearance, out of compassion, you take out your wallet to search for a ten Rupees note. The girl who is standing very near to you snatches the wallet and starts running. A man on a motorbike who see this act, catches the girl and starts beating her in full view of public. Now the traffic is moving and your car is in the middle of the road.

What will you do in such a situation? And why?


Action should be as follow:

1. Park Car- so that no disturbance to the traffic

2. Call to destination where I was heading about the emergency so that they will not wait for me.

3. Reach the spot where the man is beating girl and immediately stop him and ask him not to beat or take law in his hand. Thank him for taking notice of the theft and taking action, but remind him that the girl is very young and could have acted out of hunger too. Remind him gently that it is a public space and such act physical violence could land him in legal trouble. This should lower his anger.

4. If girl is injured- carry out first aid from the box available in the car. Get her something to eat and drink.

5. Try to know her history and then informing to NGO or child care centre and personally taking to there will be my choice since leaving her just like that will make her to repeat the act since its the poverty and poor care made her to act. If these are given girl will desist from such acts.

6. Make an occasional follow up of the girl with the agency to whom she had been handed over to.

Case Study 2:

Recently a peon was appointed in your office (DM office). He is illiterate and mentally not sound. Ever since his appointment he has been more of a ‘burden’ than any help in the office. He doesn’t know any work. Staff in your office feel that their work is disturbed by his behaviour. The peon is always found to be talking either alone or with anyone he encounters. He is not obeying your staff’s orders in the office.

He was appointed on sympathy grounds after his father’s untimely death. His mother is ill and always bedridden. His income is the only source for his family now. He got the job after lobbying by a group representing his caste. He was appointed by your predecessor after he was pressurized by local MP. Some moves to remove him by your predecessor were met with public protests by a group representing his caste.

You are very strict and disciplined  in your office. You are being respected in your district for your integrity and honesty. You come to know about the peon few days after you assume power. You have observed his behaviour and found him to be unfit to continue in his job. The peon has no other relatives except his mother.

Identify your moral and professional responsibilities in this case study and explain how will you deal with the peon.


Since the peon is unfit for the job, the option of continuing him is ruled out. so protection to his family should remain the priority of DM.

Responsibilities of DM:
1. social security and health care to peon and his mother
2. removing the peon peacefully after pacifying all parties involved

Course of action to be followed:

1. Certain actions of peon in the office should be video-recorded such as not heeding to the officers, disturbing others in office etc.

2. On priority, DM should make an arrangement for social security benefits along with health insurance to peon and his mother. A request for pension should also be made to higher authorities on exceptional grounds.

3. There after a meeting should be arranged with his caste members to explain the real problem being faced in the office and why he should be removed from the office by showing them video-clips.

4. At the same time DM should take own responsibility for peon’s pension and other benefits before the members.

5. Once they agree, his removal would be done in a smooth manner without any controversy.

6. In case they do not agree immediately, steps should be taken to constantly persuade the key members of his caste group one-by-one through constant consultations and that would surely resolve the problem.

7. In doing the above, work culture and discipline in the organisation will be protected but at the same time solved the problems of most vulnerable people i.e. peon and his mother empathetically.

Case Study 3:

You are working as Junior Engineer in a Tehsil. You have been given responsibility to measure MGNREGA works undertaken by 3 Gram Panchayats. You have authority to give technical sanctions to all MGNREGA works. In one of these Panchayats you notice that your predecessor had wrongly measured many works, and in many cases he had approved works that never existed. One day  few elected members of that Panchayat with bundle of job cards come to you to seek ‘sanction’ for the works done by them. When enquired, they reveal that they were contractors who had completed works under MGNREGA. When you reject their demand, they threaten you and tell you that the previous Junior Engineer was made to quit his job because he didn’t listen to them. This is your first job and is very important to sustain your family. There have been precedents in the past that some junior officials were beaten to death in some parts of the Tehsil.

What will you do in this situation? Explain in detail citing rules from MGNREGA Act.


  • I would tell contractor that there is provision of social audit for MGNREGA and in future it is most likely that they would get caught in future. Also the provision of DBT and biometric authentication will reveal all their wrong doings.
  • Subsequently i will report such incidence to my higher authorities and seek police protection in case my life is at risk. A report of bogus as well as valid JOB card shall be separately prepared by me which shall lie as a proof for all past irregularities.
  • My courage and uprightness will deter me from succumbing to their demands. In any case if i comply as directed by contractors, my job would be in peril. Truth can’t be hidden for long and its better to be courageous than to hide facts and face future actions.

Case Study 4:

As a DM of a home district of serving Chief Minister, you find out that a huge land scam has taken place in which close relatives of the Chief Minister are involved. The scam which you have unearthed has caused lots of financial loss to the state’s exchequer. You have been recently married to a daughter of an MLA who is known as staunch political enemy of the CM.

While you are investigating the matter for further proofs, before you make this issue public, the CM comes to know about this. He threatens you with dire consequences if you do not close the file and bury the matter silently. He threatens you with false criminal cases and CBI investigation in case you do not budge. Unfortunately, a case is pending against you regarding misuse of treasury funds, in which you haven’t done anything wrong. This case can be reopened and used against you.  However, if you stop investigation, he has assured you that you will be given a plum post in the capital.

Identify which course of action are available to you. Examine each action’s merits and demerits. Finally, explain which course of action would you follow and why?


In this situation, the following options are available:

1. Acting as per the directions of the CM and close the file in return for the plum job and to avoid investigation

2. Carry on with the investigation to find substantiate proofs to the issue which caused loss to the exchequer. Upholding the law and constitution to which i owe my allegiance.

3. Use my father-in-law’s position to expose the current CM and share the gain of this expose with my father-in-law.

4. Report the matter in media anonymously.

Option 1:


1. Plum post will be rewarded
2. Will be freed from the threat of CM and career will be safe


1. Loss to the state exchequer and ultimate sufferer would be public
2. Subversion of constitutionally mandated duty for the personal benefit
3. public image and trust will be lost



1. upholding personal integrity,objectivity, honesty, spirit of civil service
2. unearthing such act would cause deleterious effect on others who may be indulged in similar other activities
3. bringing such issue before the public will improve trust and confidence between state machinery and public.
4. Send a strong message to the political class that honest civil servant would not succumb to their pressure tactics.


1. Lot of personal hardship caused in the process including false CBI inquiry.
2. Putting life and family in jeopardy

(Similarly merits and demerits in Option 3 and Option 4).

Course of action to be followed:

I would choose option 2. Investigation would be carried out as usual. Meanwhile CM should be told politely but firmly that I am performing my constitutionally mandated duties and I have no option to Go.
There is a possibility that CM’s party workers would spread message that MLA is playing vendetta politics through his in-law. So sound proofs before the public are necessary to avoid any backfire.
If CM, in the meanwhile starts any CBI investigation on my any past acts, I would welcome that as I have not done anything wrong. Even Government suspends, I would cooperate with the enquiry to prove my innocence. If necessary I would move to court for protection against harassment.
But in no case, I would close the file to avoid any personal hardship to my career and my family as it would amount to compromising on my values and ethics which civil service holds.

Case Study 5:

You have passed UPSC Civil Services exam with a very good rank and you have given first preference to IAS and your home state. You will get home cadre as you are the topper from the state and there is vacancy available under your category. A former Chief Minister, who belongs to your caste, now wants to make you his Son-in-Law.   Just like you, his daughter is also a graduate from top foreign university, she is very beautiful and as per information gathered from different sources by your parents, she is a down to earth and sweet girl.

The former Chief Minister is also the head of the political party he belongs to and there is every chance that he would become Chief Minister again if his party comes to power in next elections. Your parents are on cloud nine ever since this marriage offer has been proposed.

The former Chief Minister was jailed for few years in the past on corruption and murder charges. There are serious cases still pending against him in different courts. He is very rich.  He has only one daughter.

His family has liked you a lot for your personality and looks also. They want you to be their Son-in-Law at any cost. The girl has also liked you. Recently they have sent costly gifts to your parents, about which you were unaware of.

1) Do you think it is unethical for you to marry the girl as you are going to serve in the same state and where there are chances of you working under your future Father-in-Law? (150 Words)

2) Will you deny this marriage proposal because your father-in-law was a criminal and many cases against him are pending? Comment. (100 Words)

3) Critically examine ethical issues involved in this case study. (100 Words)


1) Under this situation I will ready to marry the girl as she was well educated and down to earth, and my parents also like her . I don’t think that there will be any issue in this . More specifically I don not think that any one can affect integrity of job, influence my decision or take undue advantage of my position until I don’t give him the authority to do so. For a civil servant it is very important to make clear differentiation between his personal affairs and duties. And what was the guarantee that If I marry some other girl than her parents or relatives does not try to take undue advantage of my post. Here the question is related to my integrity , and I am constitutionally bound for my duty , and do so without any external pressure.

2) In this situation just by pending cases one can not consider a person criminal. It was the prerogative of court and let it decide so. And I have no authority to vanish some one image just on the basis of pending cases. As an civil servant it is very important for me that my decisions, should not be based on my prejudice. Rather than I will work accordance to law. And laws clearly revealed that no person is guilty until proven so. Also even if he is proven guilty, there is no fault with her daughter as she is down to earth and gentle. Just being a daughter of a criminal does not make her a criminal.

3) Ethical issues involved:

  • Honesty: for the efficient working in future without thinking of any personal gains of postings and promotions.
  • Integrity: for being honest , integrity is the prerequisite and moral strength makes a complete integrated personality having no confusions in taking decisions.
  • Unbiasedness: taking decisions uprightly requires no deviations from the objectives of the decision and its impact on the greater interests of the targeted section of the society.
  • Foresight: any present action could impact the future outcomes so a great vision is required instead of myopic views.

Case Study 6:

You are a Block Development Officer. You have been invited by a Panchayat Secretary to attend the Gram Sabha meeting. The meeting has been called to allot houses to the poor with an aim to make this Panchayat free of huts. State government has sent you a strict direction to provide durable houses to all the needy and to make sure no village has a single hut anywhere.

In the meeting a very old widow approaches you and tells you that she is living in a hut which is dilapidated and is about to collapse. She has no one in the village and she is all alone and she is at the fag end of her life. When you are about to recommend her a house out of empathy, Panchayat Secretary reveals that she was allotted an house few years ago and that she had sold the house to pay her husband’s debt. Some villagers who treat her as insane old widow also raise objections to grant her another house.

She is very old and she is almost begging you to help her. Selling her previous house was illegal as per Panchayat rules. She has nowhere to go. As per government’s directive, she can not continue to live in a hut.

In this circumstance what decision will you take? Explain why.


The case involves conflict between legality of allotment and society’s larger issue that is poverty. Following ethical considerations are there.

1.Women is old thus require greater protection(Article -14 – equal protection of law)
2.Women is poor with no one to care. (Re distributive justice)
3.She has flouted the rules and sold her previous allotment.
4.It is illegal to give her second allotment plus public opinion is against such allotment.

Course of action:

1. Discuss the problem of old lady with her and try to find out corrective solution by ensuring a pension and benefits under governmental schemes.

2. Discuss the issue of old lady in panchayat and try to build consensus by explaining her pitiable conditions. Further, sensitize villagers towards plight and social security of poor and old.

3. If villagers respond in negative, discuss with people in higher hierarchy to get permission to allot her house second time with a strict warning to not to sell it again otherwise legal actions will be taken.

4.If nothing works, contact an NGO or old age home and make arrangements for her care either at her village or at the home.

Case Study 7:

Rekha cleared UPSC civil services exam and became an IAS officer. After her probationary training, she was posted as CEO of Zilla Panchayat in a very backward district in a far away state from her home. There, violence and discrimination against women was rampant. The politicians, including elected representatives were known for their contempt against women officers in the district. Rekha’s parents tried to persuade her to marry an IAS officer (male) from their home state who had shown interest in marrying her to ensure her return to her home state where, her parents thought, she would get a safe and cosy posting.

Rekha firmly told her parents that she wanted to face such hardships and serve backward regions. As soon as she assumed her office, rumours were spread about her past and alleged links with mafia in the region. She had taken extraordinary measures to stop illegal activities such as sand smuggling and encroachment of government property despite risk to her life. A recent news report alleged that she was going soft on mafia. Another report suggested that she had an affair with an IAS officer working in a neighbouring district.

Identify the elements of  ethical concerns and dilemma in the above case and substantiate how you would have responded to each of such concerns and dilemma if you were Rekha.


An upright and honest officer faces organised campaign from vested interest to prevent her from performing public duties. Unsubstantiated rumours and personal attacks to malign her image and damage the reputation should be tackled head on by Rekha in this case.

Elements of ethical concerns and dilemma in above case are:

1. Choosing between person, family comfort and commitment to public duty
2. Performing one’s duty without paying heed to rumours or to dispel rumours to maintain credibility and integrity
3. Protecting one’s privacy in public life(and women’s dignity) when vested interest allege of immorality

Appropriate response in this case would involve that rather than succumbing to pressure of vested interest and organised mafia, she should be take appropriate legal recourse. The strategy to deal with each of situation can be:

1. Rekha should persuade her parents that it doesn’t matter where she serve in home state or any other state. She should make choice based on her own commitment, aptitude, duty and comfort rather than under parental or societal pressure.
2. Proper legal recourse should be taken against the people spreading lie and falsehood. Though it may distract some of time and attention from official duties, but it is essential for maintaining not only personal integrity but also professional credibility of authority.
3. A defamation case may be initiated against people spreading rumours. A official have full right to her privacy in person sphere.

Case Study 8:

You are a Collector of a district. The Chief Minister has arrived to attend a private function and at the same time has summoned all officials to get reports on various works in progress in the district. Your family was also invited by the organisers of this private function. Because of some issues at home, you arrive half an hour late to the function where meeting is also being held by the CM.

The CM, who is known for ill temper, soundly abuses you in front of all dignitaries, your wife and children. You are insulted and humiliated in full public glare. This was your first such experience.

How will you react? Explain and give reasons. (150 Words)


At that instance, several emotions would be running through my mind. Embarrassment, ego, frustration, guilt etc. The first thing I would do is manage my emotions because such emotions could lead to taking ill decisions and it is my duty to protect the respect and integrity of the post of Chief minister and Collector. Instead would try to use them to act accordingly.

Secondly, I would apologise to the Chief Minister and all the other officials as I have wasted their time. As being the head of the district, I should be the first person to intimate the CM about the happenings in the district, so my delay is not pardonable.

Thirdly, I would explain the reason for my delay. If I don’t then I would be setting a bad precedent to all the other officials.

Fourthly, to recover the thirty minutes lost, I would think of ways to give the perfect brief and also save time by eliminating other unproductive activities of the meeting. Because due to time constraint, it should not affect the information being given to the Chief Minister.

Case Study 9:

Ravi and Ramya, a newly married couple, have joined same company as software engineers. They are put under a same team leader. The team leader  has started flirting with Ravi’s wife. He has also started giving trouble to Ravi in terms of putting him under lot of work related pressure. Both Ravi and Ramya have signed contract with the company.

Ravi is now asking Ramya to leave the job and stay at home. Ramya is just friendly with the team leader, and she thinks he is harmless. Though she has told Ravi about this, Ravi wants her to leave the job at any cost. After few months Ramya got promotion whereas Ravi didn’t. She is made team leader of another team and she now reports to manager who was her former team leader. These developments have further depressed Ravi and lately he has started doubting his wife. However, Ramya has always been faithful to Ravi.

If you were in Ravi’s and Ramya’s place, what would you do respectively? (200 Words)


As Ravi, i would like to openly convey to my wife about the insecurities i feel in her interaction with her boss and her subsequent promotion. I would also like to say to her i trust her lot and would only want good for her and was happy that she had got promotion, but i dint really trust the intent of her boss (my former TL) and therefore i would like her to trust me in my feelings and stay away from him since it was probably sending a wrong message to him, who was misinterpreting her friendly nature and also as it was damaging our personal relations due to my insecurities, if she wasnt ready to leave the job, as it would be best possible outcome.

As Ramya i would make my husband understand about my nature and my friendliness, which dint mean anything more apart from just that. I would address my husband’s insecurities by listening to him patiently and understanding it in the light of my recent promotion, it would only complicate his thought process. Since i would not like to leave the job i would for one trust my husband and keep my interactions with boss to only professional level since it would inspire confidence in my husband. However to address his deeper bias against me i would give him a plain talk about my freedom, integrity and choices, and the fact that his distrust will not help matters hence he should be more open to me interacting with male counterparts without any bias.

Case Study 10:

You are traveling in a government bus to attend a very important job interview. In one hour you should be present at the interview venue. The bus is very congested. Luckily you are seated. From your seat you observe that a middle aged man standing next to a girl is touching and trying to molest her. The girl is silently resisting and trying to move away from him. But the man is continuing his actions. As the bus is congested, nobody is noticing this except you.

1) In this situation, what will you do? Explain. (150 Words)

2) If you do not do anything, which values will you be compromising? Explain their importance. (200 Words)


1)First of all, I will offer my seat to that girl. It will prevent the person to make any advances to her. Secondly, I will ask the girl whether she wants to make any complaint against the person. If she wants to do that, I will make a call to the police. If she does not want to get involved into it, I will talk to other passengers and will try to pressurize the person to accept his mistake and not to repeat it in future. (But only if she has no objection as being a girl she might feel being antonyms). I will also encourage her to raise voice against this type of injustice which violates modesty of girl.

2)If I take no action I’ll violate the following values:
a) Respect for women- It will become disrespect for dignity of women if I remain silent.
b) Honesty- Closing eyes towards injustice amounts to dishonesty to myself.
c) Courage of conviction- Standing up to misbehaviour will only be true courage of conviction against all such pervert people of society.
d) Empathy- Though I can see misbehaviour being done, if I do not empathise with the girl, it is a loss of humanitarianism.

Therefore, all such values must be upheld in daily life for a dignified living of self and others in society.

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