Q: You are a municipal commissioner of a large city, having the reputation of a very honest and upright officer. A huge multipurpose mall is under construction in your city in which a large number of daily wage earners are employed. One night, during monsoons, a big chunk of the roof collapsed causing instant death of four labourers including two minors. Many more were seriously injured requiring immediate medical attention. The mishap resulted in a big hue and cry, forcing the government to institute an enquiry.
Your preliminary enquiry has revealed a series of anomalies. The material used for the construction was of poor quality. Despite the approved building plans permitting only one basement, an additional basement has been constructed. This was overlooked during the periodic inspections by the building inspector of the municipal corporation. In your enquiry, you noticed that the construction of the mall was given the green signal despite encroaching on areas earmarked for a green belt and a slip road in the Zonal Master Plan of the city. The permission to construct the mall was accorded by the previous Municipal Commissioner who is not only your senior and well known to you professionally, but also a good friend.
Prima facie, the case appears to be of a widespread nexus between officials of the Municipal Corporation and the builders. Your colleagues are putting pressure on you to go slow in the enquiry. The builder, who is rich and influential, happens to be a close relative of a powerful minister in the state cabinet. The builder is persuading you to hush up the matter, promising you a fortune to do so. He also hinted that this matter is not resolved at the earliest in his favour there is somebody in his office who is waiting to file a case against you under the POSH Act.
Discuss the ethical issues involved in the case. What are the options available to you in this situation? Explain your selected course of action. (250 words) (20 marks)
In this case, I face a conflict between loyalty towards my senior and friend who was the previous Municipal Commissioner and towards doing my duty of investigating the case. My second ethical dilemma is due to conflict between my personal interest and public responsibilities. If I go slow, I may get personal benefits while discharging my duties honestly may put me into personal difficulties. The different options available in this case are:
1: Go Slow and Hush Up the Matter
If the enquiry is conducted slowly, the accident would soon fade away from public memory. It can then be closed without incriminating any officer or builder. This will make the officers of the Municipal Corporation happy and please the builder. I may also get a good reward for helping them.
2: Proceed on Leave or Seek Transfer
I can seek transfer from the charge or proceed on leave citing personal reasons or on medical grounds. This will save me from the trouble of getting into illegal action.
3: Conduct a Proper Enquiry
I must conduct a proper enquiry of the case and book all the culprits of the department as well as the builder.
In this case, the third option is the best option. Such an action shall be in accordance with the duties and responsibilities assigned to me as a Municipal Commissioner. The poor people who lost their lives shall get justice and the recurrence of such incidents in future can be stopped. I shall take due caution to avoid anyone making a POSH case against me. However, if such an allegation is made, I shall face an enquiry and expose the conspiracy to malign me.
Source : ‘Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude for Civil Services Examination’by Dr Awdhesh Singh, available at