Q13. As a senior officer in the Finance Ministry, you have access to some confidential and crucial information about policy decisions that the government is about to announce. These decisions are likely to have far-reaching impact on the housing and construction industry. If the builders have access to this information beforehand, they can make huge profits. One of the builders has done a lot of quality work for the government and is known to be close to your immediate superior, who asks you to disclose this information to the said builder.
(a) What are the options available to you?
(b) Evaluate each of these options and choose the option which you would adopt, giving reasons. (250 words; 20 marks)
A civil servant must maintain the highest level of honesty and integrity in public life. They must uphold the law in letter and spirit at any cost. In this case, the following options are available:
1. We may follow the order of our superior and disclose the information to the builder. By doing so, we shall be illegally benefiting the builder because other builders won’t have the access to the same information. This will give undue advantage to the builder, which is ethically and legally wrong because a public servant must be impartial, fair and just to everyone. We are also breaking the law of secrecy and violating conduct rules of the civil services by revealing classified information, which is a punishable offence. We should, therefore, not follow the order of our superior because it is legally wrong.
2. The second option is to record the oral order and file a complaint in the Vigilance Department or the CBI, along with the evidence. This may, however, precipitate the matter and antagonise other officers of the department.
3. The third option is to discuss the matter with the superior and explain to him the law in this regard. If he still wants the information to be disclosed to the builder, a firm no should be said.
It is never advisable to break the law as a civil servant. Under no condition should they disclose secret information to anyone or give someone undue advantage illegally. Therefore, in the given situation, the third option is the most preferable. (255 words)