Suppose you are newly appointed as a District Collector, and a businessman approaches you to seek permission regarding building a mall in your city with a modernised ambience that once built will be a glorious addition to the City. However, the projected land for the mall is surrounded by slums, and therefore must be cleared before construction can begin.
The subordinate informed you that the slums were built illegally and have been breeding grounds for drug dealers and phone snatchers.
In addition, the businessman proposes that if you approve the tender, he will facilitate the purchase of a large plot of land in a renowned area of the city in the name of your wife/husband.
Critically examine various conflicts of interest and explain your course of action as a public servant.23 Sep, 2022 GS Paper 4 Case Studies
Facts of the Case Stakeholders Involved New Appointment Businessman Illegal Slum Settlement Slum dwellers Bribe offered to negotiate. Self ( District Collector) Land acquisition for Infrastructure Development Subordinate Officer
Ethical Issues Involved:
- Incorrect Means for Good Ends: The establishment of a mall in the district will add value, but there should be no recourse to bribery to accomplish that. A large plot of land in a renowned area can be bribed for personal gain, but passing a tender just for personal gain is not just with slum dwellers.
- Empathy V/s Rule of Law: Since, slums are built illegally, have been breeding grounds for drug dealers and phone snatchers, strict action can be taken for their evacuation, but there remain the innocent people whose life will be hampered because of evacuation
- Development V/s Rights of Underprivileged: Development cannot be done at the expense of marginalised sections and their rights must be secured at all costs, however, evicting people from their homes is not a just treatment.
Options Merits Demerits 1. Passing the Tender by Means of Bribe
Looking for Development of District
Gain for the family.
The act of bribery violates professional ethics
Setting the wrong precedent for the future
2. Not Passing the tender and Supporting slum dwellers
- Justification of Empathy towards the Underprivileged.
- Against the Rule of Law (Action against illegal construction)
3. Examination of slums and desired areas demanded by businessmen with the help of Municipality
Adhering to professional duty
Showing impartial attitude of administration.
Option (3) should be the correct approach to handle the situation
Course of Action:
- Saying no to bribery and assuring the Businessman if the construction is legal the tender will be passed.
- Scrutiny of slums and desired areas demanded by businessmen with the help of Municipality, would be carried upon.
- Proper two-way communication should be established between the slum dwellers and businessmen so that both sides get a due chance to present their views.
- In the case of illegality of Slum and a Legally Viable Desired Area for Mall:
- A proper plan for rehabilitation of the underprivileged (to be evicted) should be put into action in order to safeguard their rights, along with taking care of their livelihood and adequate compensation. For this purpose, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Fund could be utilised.
- In case the desired area for mall is against environmental and legal laws:
- Mall Construction will not be tendered
- Additionally, measures will be taken to provide housing for the people living in slums, and organising skill development training in order to enable them to sustain their livelihood, which will reduce drug-related crimes and robberies.
The development needs in this dynamic world cannot be compromised, but the Right to Residence is also a Fundamental Right, and securing a social, economic, and political just social order (Directive Principles of State Policy) is another State responsibility. Thus, for a peaceful existence, a balance must be struck between the development and rights of individuals and marginalised groups.
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