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State PCS

Mains Practice Questions

  • Case Study

    You work in a government office, and due to your expertise and trustworthiness, you have been selected to serve on election duty. Your role involves ensuring a fair and transparent electoral process by overseeing the polling station operations, maintaining the voting machines, and monitoring the conduct of election officials.

    During the election, you observe a fellow election official who happens to be your good friend engaging in misconduct. The official is manipulating the voting process by favouring a particular political party, allowing unauthorized individuals to vote multiple times, and suppressing votes from certain demographics. You are aware that the actions of this official compromise the integrity of the election and violate the principles of fairness and impartiality.

    How do you balance your duty to the election process with potential personal consequences?

    19 May, 2023 GS Paper 4 Case Studies


    • Start your answer by briefly introducing the issue.
    • Talk about various stakeholders involved in the case.
    • Discuss ethical dilemmas involved in the case.
    • Discuss the available options and course of action that should be taken.
    • Conclude accordingly.


    As an election official, I have been bestowed with the significant responsibility of serving on election duty. My expertise and trustworthiness have led to my selection for this role, where I play a vital part in ensuring a fair and transparent electoral process. My duties encompass overseeing the operations at a polling station, maintaining the voting machines, and monitoring the conduct of my fellow election officials. It’s my duty to conduct free and fair elections.


    Stakeholders Involved:

    • Me and my friend
    • Election Commission
    • Voters
    • Political Parties
    • Election Officials
    • Society at large

    Ethical Principles involved in the case:

    • Fairness
    • Integrity
    • Accountability
    • Public interest
    • Courage

    What are the options available to me?

    • Talk to my friend for his misconduct: I would try to talk to your friend privately and persuade him to stop his misconduct. I would explain the consequences of their actions for the election process, the voters, and themselves. I would appeal to their sense of duty, ethics, and friendship. I would also warn them that I will report them if they do not stop.
      • Pros:
        • Preserving the friendship: Private conversation can salvage friendship, express concerns, reflect on actions, and make amends.
        • Resolving the issue internally: Private resolution can prevent negative consequences for friend's reputation, career, and election process, and can lead to immediate cessation of misconduct without involving external parties.
      • Cons:
        • Limited effectiveness: While personal conversations can be impactful, there is no guarantee that my friend will be receptive to my persuasion or change his behaviour.
        • Compromised integrity: By having knowledge of the misconduct and not reporting it immediately, there is a risk of compromising my own integrity as an election official.
        • Potential personal and professional repercussions: Choosing to address the issue privately and not reporting it immediately could put me at risk of being seen as complicit in his actions.
    • Reporting the issue to officials: I would report the issue to the higher authorities or the election commission. I would provide evidence of their wrongdoing and request an immediate investigation.
      • Pros:
        • Ensuring integrity of the election: Reporting the misconduct to officials helps maintain the integrity of the election process.
        • Upholding fairness and impartiality: By reporting the issue, I would uphold the principles of fairness and impartiality that are essential for a democratic electoral process. It demonstrates my commitment to the ethical conduct of elections and the protection of democratic values.
        • Legal and institutional support: It allows the appropriate authorities to investigate and take necessary action based on established legal and institutional procedures.
        • Deterrence and prevention: It would deter future instances of misconduct by making it clear that such actions will not be tolerated. It helps maintain public trust in the electoral process.
      • Cons:
        • Potential strain on relationships: Reporting the misconduct of my friend or colleague can strain personal or professional relationships. It may create tension or conflict, especially if the allegations lead to disciplinary action or legal consequences for the individual involved.
        • Retaliation or backlash: Reporting the issue may expose me to potential retaliation or backlash from the person involved or their allies.
        • Potential for lack of action: While reporting the issue is crucial, there is a possibility that the responsible officials may not take immediate or effective action to address the misconduct.
        • Need for supporting evidence: When reporting the misconduct, it is important to provide sufficient evidence to support. If there is a lack of concrete evidence, it may be challenging to prove the allegations.

    Course of Action to balance duty to the election process and potential personal consequences:

    • Talk to my friend: I would speak to my friend privately and explain the seriousness of the situation. I would remind him of his duty to uphold the integrity of the election process and the potential consequences of his actions. I would also warn him that if the authorities get to know of his activities, he might land up in deep trouble.
    • Consult with trusted colleagues or mentors: While maintaining the confidentiality, I would also seek advice (if needed) from individuals I trust, who may have experience or expertise in handling such situations, would provide valuable insights and guidance.
    • Get the issue reported: If he doesn’t stop his activities, I would seek help from likeminded colleagues to get the issue reported to the returning officer. This way I would be able to maintain balance between personal relations and the duty.
    • Cooperate with investigations: I would cooperate fully with any subsequent investigations by providing additional information or testifying if required.
    • Maintain confidentiality: As the situation unfolds, I would be cautious about discussing the case openly to prevent compromising the investigation or causing undue panic among voters.
    • Protect my own safety: Anticipating potential retaliation, I would take appropriate steps to ensure my personal safety and well-being, seeking assistance from relevant authorities if necessary.


    • Balancing the duty to the election process with potential personal consequences can be a challenging and ethically complex situation. While performing the duty entrusted upon me, I would give a chance to my friend to amend his actions. However, as an election official entrusted with ensuring a fair and transparent electoral process, it is imperative to prioritize the integrity of the election over personal relationships.

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