Q11. Suppose you are an officer in-charge of implementing a social service scheme to provide support to old and destitute women. An old and illiterate woman comes to you to avail the benefits of the scheme. However, she has no documents to show that she fulfils the eligibility criteria. But after meeting her and listening to her you feel that she certainly needs support. Your enquiries also show that she is destitute and living in a pitiable condition. You are in a dilemma as to what to do. Putting her under the scheme without necessary documents would clearly be violation of the rules. But denying her the support would be cruel and inhuman.
(a) Can you think of a rational way to resolve this dilemma?
(b) Give your reasons for it. (250 words)
The officer’s duty is to provide support to old and destitute women in a legal and proper manner. However, the procedures prescribed by the government should also be followed. In this case, it is evident that the old woman fulfils all the criteria’s for getting government help, but she does not have documents like Aadhaar card, BPL card, etc., which are prescribed by law.
The officers in government usually have the discretion to accept secondary documents, if the main documents are not available. If no documents are available, the woman can be asked to bring an affidavit that has been made by people who know her. The officer can also help her in getting the prescribed documents by deputing an officer who can coordinate with the other departments and get all the papers quickly.
An officer must always act and use his discretionary powers in the public interest. If they follow only the letter of the law and violate the spirit of the law, they may be doing a great disservice to the nation. A good public servant must be proactive in serving the poor and needy people. If documents are not available, they can depute an officer to get the documents made from the respective government department/s. They must also raise the issue with the ministry to provide flexibility in the rules and procedures so that in appropriate cases, the competent officer can provide help to the destitute people after due enquiry. The officer must do his best to help the destitute woman in a legal and proper manner. (255 words)