Ethics Case Studies (21 to 30)

Ethics Case Studies (21 to 30)

Case Study 21:

A school van carrying 20 children hits a passenger bus en-route to school. Three women in the passenger bus and 4 children in the school van die on the spot. It was the fault of driver of school van who jumped the signal and hit the passenger bus. The driver of school van escapes unhurt and then escapes from the accident spot. The government announces cash relief to all the victims – dead and injured. At the same time, the government cancels recognition to the school to which the van belongs to. The police, on complaint from the aggrieved parents, arrests the principal of the school and a search party is sent to arrest the absconding driver.

  1. Is government right in its actions mentioned in the case study? Substantiate. (200 Words)
  2. Is it right to arrest the school principal? Explain why. (150 Words)



Government took the following decisions:
a) Announces cash relief to all the victims – dead and injured.
b) At the same time, the government cancels recognition to the school to which the van belongs to.
Since, it is already established in the case study that it was due to the fault of driver that the accident occurred. Therefore, reputation of the school that hires bus/ driver is lost to an immeasurable extent.
School authorities must have entered in to a contract for transport as per which it is the responsibility of contractor for safe travel of students to and fro home & school. Accordingly some consequential damages have also been indicated in the contract. And therefore, the compensation amount can very well be given to victims from the contractor and therefore purpose of Government announcing cash relief to all victims- dead or injured, is defeated.
Therefore, it can be said that Govt is not right in its decision of announcing cash relief to victims. Similarly, also having established that it is a fault of driver/ contractor and assuming that all the precaution have been taken by School authorities as indicated in the contract conditions, penalising school authorities by Government by cancelling its recognition does not hold good either.


It may be noted here that for any fault of driver/ contractor, Principal of the school shall not be arrested merely on the complaint of the aggrieved parents since the arrest is not justified. Rather, it will have a negative effect on the morale of the school fraternity as they might shirk off their responsibility to take decisions in future cases related to similar incidents. Therefore, stern action against driver/ contractor in violation of a contract or any legal case, whatsoever, can be initiated.

Case Study 22:

You are in charge of rescue operations in a severely flood hit area. Thousands of people are stranded in deep waters in their homes without food and drinking water for 3-4 days. Because of rough topography and heavy rainfall, the rescue operation is slow. When your men reach stranded people, they heckle and assault your men out of anger. One of your team members is severely injured in these fights. Your team members request you to call off operation as they are scared of facing angry people and also they are angry about the behaviour of those stranded people. At the same time, media is writing negative news about your efforts.

In such circumstances as mentioned in above case study, how will you manage the situation? For a person in your position, examine which qualities should be on display during this type of situations?


Opinion supporting request of team member:

1. threat to life of team member.
2 fault of terrain rather than help team in slow response
3. demotivated team due to crowd & media reports

Opinion against request:

1. it is nature of job to have unexpected response
2. emotional & psychological toll on mental health of crowd after 3-4 days of starvation, crowd can not be blamed
3. help team is the only lifeline of rescue till it is reinforced

Course of action:

1. immediate medical attention to injured team member. team accompanied by local leader to pacify crowd, as well as at least one doctor.
2. water and food to be primary concern of rescue operation.
3. request for reinforcement and air support to lift people by air for rescue. survivors weak due to starvation, and tough terrain- can’t be rescued properly otherwise.
4. setup camps for those rescued, use local help as much as possible.
5. lead the team if possible in rescue operations to boost morale.
6. report the situation clearly and assistance required to higher authorities.

It is important to tell the media that we are putting in our best efforts is important to provide support and hope to the families of the flood victims and ensure that a panic wave doesn’t ensue. For that a press conference can be held to apprise the media of our efforts. Also, a helpline to help the victims and their families can be set up.

Qualities to be displayed:

1 leadership to lead the team and community as a whole out of crisis.
2. motivator to rescue team after the attack on team specifically
3. networking/ co-ordinating skill to cover all aspects of rescue, order, reporting as well as deciding on critical instances.
4. emotional intelligence to deal with angry crowd.
5. hard work in crisis situation is indispensable. Other qualities: empathy, patience, efficiency.

Case Study 23:

A criminal who is convicted and awarded death sentence for raping and murdering five girls, minutes before his hanging, anxiously asks a jail official if getting hanged is painful. The official tells him that it is not as painful as getting raped and murdered. The convict is hanged as per the procedure.

What ethical issues do you see in this scenario? Critically examine various arguments for and against capital punishment. (250 Words)


“He i believe is the greatest coward, who to prove his manliness preys upon a woman”

Ethical issues involved in this scenario:
• Taking life: The man has acted brutally and murdered 5 girls. His conscience was mute as dead when he committed such heinous crimes;
• Violating personal sanctity: every individual’s body is a sacred disposition of the almighty. By outraging the modesty of these 5 girls, the man has not only violated this sacredness but humiliated the entire women race around the world.
• Violation of country’s law: Law of the land is a way to imbibe ethical values in its citizens. Laws act as a deterrent and make individuals ethical. He has violated the country’s law and thus violated each and every ethical value
• Violation of natural law: The natural law of kindness and humanity has been violated by the criminal.
• Lifelong family grievance: The criminal has not only killed the girls but also destroyed the lives of people associated with them.
• Capital Punishment: “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.”
The criminal committed a heinous crime by raping and murdering 5 girls, but does the act of hanging him ensure that justice would be delivered. He was mentally ill thats why he did such crime, but do we sane people should advocate the same for him?

Arguments for capital punishment:

  • Such people are threat to society. Such psychological perverts who lack conscience cant be expected to reform, since reformation requires some conscience, which this criminal lacks.
  • The theory of retributive jurisdiction says that the criminal asked for the punishment by committing such crime. He is the one who demanded it. The society only obliged to his demand.
  • A message has to be sent to the society that such acts wont be tolerated. Thus capital punishment would serve as a deterrent.
  • The girls ’family members need to be compensated for their loss.
  • Prisoners’dilemma: If the maximum punishment for such crime is life imprisonment and even for committing a rape is life imprisonment, then the criminal would always try to kill the victim as he would feel that he is going to get imprisoned for life anyways, whereas if the victim dies, its possible that his crime could never be exposed.
  • US, China, Pak, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq and other gulf countries contribute more than 50 percent of world’s population, and capital punishment exists in these countries. It means majority of the world favours capital punishment.

Arguments against capital punishment:

o Killing a criminal isn’t enough. He needs to understand that what he did was wrong. For that he needs to brood over his crime and this needs time.
o No study to prove that capital punishment acts as a deterrent.
o Majority of the nations have done away with capital punishment.
o Penance is the only true punishment. Killing him in retribution wont reform the evil inside him that let him commit that crime in the first place.
o He was ill, thus he murdered those girls, but we are mentally sane, then is retribution justified?
o A capital punishment would be too easy punishment for him. Its a one time touch and go exercise.
o He committed a crime, but by killing him his entire family would be punished.

The strength of our judicial system lies in reformatory jurisdisction not retributive jurisdiction. Whatever be the crisis, focus should always be on the reform of the criminal because when a spirit reforms, so do the spirits identical to it. Thus similar criminals would take a lesson from the day to day remorse of that individual and this would lead to greater deterrence against such crimes in the society.

Case Study 24:

You are a senior police officer working at the state police headquarters. Your wife is a Commissioner in the Higher Education Department. Recently an RTI activist has filed an RTI application seeking all the information related to purchases made by the department for the government colleges. At the behest of the minister, almost double the amount was spent by the department to purchase furniture and computers for all the state run colleges. If the real facts come out, your wife will be at risk of getting suspended and if corruption charges proved, she might even go to jail. The RTI activist is actually a close friend of yours. You come to know that he is targeting the minister in charge of the department and has nothing against your wife. He also tells you that he is ready to withdraw application as a gesture of friendship.

In this situation, what will you do? Explain. (250 Words)


Being a police officer, i have undertaken solemn oath to abide by the law. The case study deals with the issue of corruption and ethical dilemma. Its my constitutional duty to unearth the corrupt practices.
RTI is a potent weapon to bring the transparency. Considering this civil service virtue ,i would never ask my friend to withdraw his application even if it have bearing on my spouse’s career.
Minister in connivance with corrupt officials misappropriated public money. This should be investigated throughly. I will discuss the matter with my wife to know about her role in the case as a commissioner in the department. If she failed to uphold the integrity and honesty, she is liable for legal action whether it may be suspension or incarceration.
It is an imperishable fact that if she found guilty my personal life would suffer. But in the larger interest of public all corrupts will face justice for their misdeeds. If she hasn’t had ill intentions, natural justice takes it own course.
Public servants are custodian of people’s resources. It’s their constitutional and moral duty to protect and optimize them. Exemplary punishment awaits them in case of failure.

Case Study 25:

As a DM, you are doing your best to demolish all illegal encroachments in the  district headquarters. This has brought you a good name. At the heart of the city, there is an immediate need of widening a road where lately lots of accidents have taken place because of huge vehicle traffic. In the middle of this road there is a temple which is causing lots of traffic problems thanks to large number of devotees who visit it daily.  Investigation reveals that the temple is constructed illegally on government property. If congestion to be eased on the road, the temple must be demolished. You send a notice to temple management. They sensationalize the issue through media by twisting facts. They also politicize the issue. They have also tried to incite communal feelings of devotees. You know that the temple management is getting huge income from the temple and this is one of the reasons why there is stiff opposition for its demolition. You also get frequent calls from prominent politicians requesting you not to go ahead with its demolition.  Your family members, who are god-fearing, are also against your decision.

In this situation, what will you do? Explain the consequences and how will you deal with them?


Since the temple exist in the middle of a road and it is illegally constructed there is there is lot of congestion due to temple and subsequent causalities on that road, the best possible solution is that shift the temple from that place. By passing it or building a bridge over temple may send wrong precedent to the people who wanted to take advantage of these actions in future.As this is a communally sensitive issue the success of the District Magistrate depends on how sensibly he handled the issue in meeting his objective of shifting the temple to the new place.

As per the question it seems the temple management committee is the primary road block in achieving his objective. DM has to find leverages to force the temple management to come up with the ways which are legal. A comprehensive report of the traffic causalities in that area placed in public domain may be a good step to start with. Then DM may organize a meeting with the temple management and say them in the interest of the public and for the safety of devotees visiting, the temple has to be shifted to a new suitable place. If they do not agree he may ask them to voice their concerns in written form.

The biggest concern they may say is shifting the deity. But there are numerous precedents in our history and in the recent past where the principle deity was shifted to better places through proper rituals and reinstated there. He can exemplify them. At the same time informally suggest to temple management that this has to be done in the interest of the society and it would be better if the temple management will try to get the better deal by cooperating with the state. Also try to persuade them as the scope of extension of temple in the present place is limited and devotees facing inconvenience etc.

After addressing the issues involved in their written plea even then If the management still adamant as a DM he could offer a new land in a suitable place for a price for temple construction and announce that since the land is offered by state the new temple management will consist of honorary nominee members elected from the society but not the members of old management. Surely this will send the message to the present temple management and they will find a way to shift the temple to a new suitable place on their own as the income involved is great.

The DM should assist them in possible manner while maintaining secular credentials in the shifting of temple and then go ahead with road construction. He can use his good name through earlier work among common people to be not come under influence of communal incitement.

Case Study 26:

Recently there was a communal clash between communities X and Y in one of the villages under your jurisdiction. It was so severe that, all the people belonging to  minority community X, fled from their village. Later they were given shelter in nearby temporary camp. The camp lacked all basic amenities. After few days, law and order was restored in the village. The majority community Y is unwilling to welcome back even a single person from the minority community. Whereas, the minority community do not want to return for the fear of reprisals. People from both the communities were killed and raped during the clashes. As a DM of the district it’s your responsibility to maintain law and order in your jurisdiction. The people in camp are demanding rehabilitation in a new place. They are seeking government help in building new homes, jobs for one member from each of their families and round the clock police protection.

The CM has directed you to find a solution to the impasse. He has specifically told you that rehabilitation is not an option when the properties of the minority community are intact in their village. He is in favour of sending them back to their village.

In this situation what will you do? Explain.


The case in question needs to be dealt with utmost sensitivity as events are still hot in the people’s minds. To ask the minority community to come back to the village without any confidence building measures is not gonna give any results. As the DM of the area my foremost priority would be to build confidence among both the communities especially the minorities. The actions in this sense should start from the camp itself as providing the basic amenities would boost confidence among the minorities that they are being heard and taken care off. Apart from this step intelligence gathering of the village and nearby area needs to be done to track elements which are spreading this communal disharmony. Once a check has been put on these elements and the other immediate welfare measures like establishing the proper network of police thanas, streamlining the public services disrupted due to riots etc. has been improving swiftly the minority as well as majority community can be convinced for living in harmony. In this the help of village elders, who understand the situation and government’s stand can be sought.

Case Study 27:

A man convicted for rape and murder of two 15 year old girls has been awarded death sentence by the court. His sentence is due in 3 days. You are the in charge of the jail and have been assigned to supervise his death sentence. The convict becomes seriously ill two days before he is about to be hanged. Preliminary medical tests reveal that he has blood cancer. Your colleagues advise you that as he is about to be executed, the matter should be kept as secret and the convict should be kept in his cell. Even jail doctors advise you the same. They also tell you that this convict deserved such a death for his crime.

What will you do in this situation? Explain why.


I will take preliminary examination report seriously. I would not keep this information secret and send him to hospital if his condition is bad. Because he is a human and we should respect basic human right of each person.
My moral consciousness and professional consciousness orders me to take care of every prisoner of the jail. I will inform the court about the serious condition of prisoners because death of execution will be decided by the court. I will do this action because not only the consequences should be right but also the mean.
Therefore he will be given proper medical aid. And secondly i would also allow his family member to meet him because it is legally and morally right. They would not be denied because of his poor health. I will also advise them that they should appeal to court that he is not convicted unless he is not recovered.
I would also try to convince my colleagues as well as the doctor that though he has been given death sentence yet it is our duty to provide a humane treatment to the prisoners. If we are not providing such treatment than there is no difference between democratic country and a totalitarian regime.

Case Study 28:

You are the CEO of Zilla Panchayat. A Gram Panchayat Secretary has been assaulted by Gram Panchayat member. The member is an influential figure in the Tehsil and is very close to the local MLA. The Panchayat Secretary is severely injured and is hospitalised.  He was assaulted after being caught red handed while taking bribe from a poor woman in the office. The member has the support of villagers and MLA. All these incidences have been brought to your notice by the Block Development Officer.

What will you do in this situation?


In this situation, ethical dilemma arises as to take action against whom:
a) Panchayat member who had ruthlessly beaten Panchayat Secretary due to latter accepting bribe
b) Panchayat Secretary who had indulged in corruption

Here it is important to note the following:
1) Panchayat Secretary was unethical in firstly accepting/demanding bribe.

2) However, this should not allow any person to take law in his own hands. Here, panchayat member with almost mob support (villagers back him, though they themselves did not assault) has taken law in his hands, which is also unethical. He could have taken help of law- contacted Vigilance department and laid a trap to catch him red-handed again, or lodged FIR in police station.

Therefore, I will take the following steps:
a) First I will conduct an enquiry myself with help of other Parishad members into incident, as BDO has just informed me.

b) If I find that the incident is true and Panchayat Secretary is in hospital, I’ll extend all treatment support to him. Also, I’ll talk to the poor woman and tell her to lodge FIR against Secretary if he demanded bribe. Law will take its course here.

c) Also, I’ll ask Police to investigate into Panchayat Member’s actions and proceed accordingly with relevant sections of law he has violated.

In this way, I will be able to solve the issue in unbiased way and uphold my values of non-partisanship, empathy, integrity and going by law.

Case Study 29:

Your friend is staying with you and is preparing for the civil services exam along with you. He is from a very poor family. You know him since childhood. You have accommodated him for free of cost in your room. He is not paying for anything. Earlier he used to work hard, but lately he is spending his time mostly watching movies or talking to friends on the phone. There is another friend who wants to move in to your room. He is willing to pay half the rent. He will also arrange his own food.

Though you have made efforts to make your friend realize his mistakes, he still continues to spend time on unproductive activities. He has never disturbed you directly though. Recently the rent was increased. Now it is a burden for you to pay all the rent and food charges of your friend.

What will you do? Explain why.


First of all, preparing for civil services needs both passion as well as determination. If my dear friend is seeking diversions from studies, it might be either that he is disturbed or is not passionate enough for being a civil servant. Since I’ve already tried motivating him to study many times and has failed in my attempts, I assume that he is precisely not much passionate to be in the civil services. In that case, it would be sheer wastage of his time and energy. Given the situation that the financial burden over me is increasing, I would call him over to have a heart to heart talk.
I would let him know that being his friend since childhood and knowing his background, I’m concerned over his future. I would suggest him to pursue something of his interest if he is not passionate enough for being a civil servant. I would also let him know that I had been more than happy to accomodate him, as I considered it to boost his morale to clear civil services, and now that I find my sacrifices going futile, and since the economic cost is increasing, I find it disturbing to waste hard-earned money. He would have to make a decision, either to move out and pursue his interests, or to stay and devote himself competely to preparation, and this is to be done at the earliest, not just for my sake but for ensuring himself a good future.
I hope he might give it a serious thought and make a decision ,within the given time, which in either way makes me comfortable.

Case Study 30:

You are working as an Executive Engineer in the Panchayat Raj division.  An RTI activist has filed an application seeking information regarding tender process to project completion of all road projects that you have supervised and allotted since you assumed office. In one of the road projects, under pressure from an influential politician (he had threatened you with life), you had mismanaged the tender allotment process and allotted works to the politician’s brother who is a contractor. The project was worth Rs 20 crores. The road constructed was substandard.

In this situation, what are your moral obligations and what course of action will you take? Explain.


A mistake can be never be corrected by another mistake. The right approach would be to accept the fact that I have committed a mistake and confront it.

In my opinion there are 3 moral obligations

1. Inform the management of what has happened and how the tender was mis-allotted
2. Take corrective measure by starting action against the contractor and make sure the sub-standard road is worked upon
3. Reply to the RTI with the actual facts, in this particular case
a. report of the mis-allotment
b. Pending action from the management post the acceptance of the mistake
c. Action against the mis-management in laying road by the contractor

Judicial systems and punishments are in place not to make people suffer but to correct the wrong doers. If your actions show remorse, and guiltiness, and genuine effort to work for the society, you can walk away with minimal punishment.

Moreover, I should accept the punishment as it can remove the guilty feeling, and make my determination stronger to not slip in the future.

My overall approach is based mainly on two points
1. A mistake cannot correct another mistake. So accept the fact.
2. See if any corrective measures be taken without costing exchequer
3. Confront the issue with people in-charge, so you can get minimal punishment and continue duty for the society with more determination and dedication

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