Mr Ishan Purohit is working as Public Information Officer (PIO) in the Ministry of Urban Development. He receives an application under RTI Act, seeking information regarding the method of allocation of contracts, to a local construction company, owned by an influential businessman. The contract pertains to a flyover construction, made by the aforesaid construction company. The flyover, just before the completion had collapsed resulting in the death of two labourers.
Since the case didn’t attain much hype from the media or any NGO, it was suppressed silently. Mr Ishan knows that some of his superiors are involved in the suppression of the case. They have received heavy bribes from the construction company. If Mr. Ishan provides correct information, his superiors along with company officials will be in trouble. He is also being pressurized by his superiors to manipulate the information. Moreover, the company officials have also offered him a huge sum of money, in return for this favor. Mr Ishan is also in need of financial assistance as his father is admitted to a private hospital for kidney transplantation.
Analyze the situation and explain what options are available to Mr. Ishan along with their merits and demerits. Which option he should go with?
In this case, Mr Ishan may be in a state of dilemma to choose between his professional integrity and the well-being of his family.
Mr Ishan needs money due to the medical condition of his father. But his professional ethics and public service value commands that he should furnish correct information to the RTI application. There has been the death of two labour due to the collapse of the flyover. They must get justice if death was caused by poor design and construction material. Flyover is also a common good. Its Collapse causes fear among travellers, loss to the exchequer, and hampers local development apart from creating the traffic problem.
The following are the options of Mr Ishan:
- Cooperate with the seniors and company officials and manipulate the information
- His professional and social well-being will be ensured.
- The integrity of Mr Ishan will be compromised.
- RTI act will be rendered less effective due to the dishonesty of the PIO.
- This will affect the work culture and more manipulation will occur in future.
2. Take leave or resign
- Pressure from senior and company officials can be avoided.
- Mr Ishan can borrow some money from office colleagues and seniors for the treatment of his father.
- Dereliction of official duty. He will be complicit in acts of corruption.
- Guilt and inner dissonance.
3. Furnish the correct information
- Integrity and uprightness will be maintained.
- Sanctity of RTI act.
- Justice for people who lost their life.
- Mr Ishan may suffer professionally and personally as he may face difficulty in the treatment of his father.
Mr Ishan must choose to furnish the correct information. He can take a loan or borrow from his friends and relatives and use the benefit of health insurance for the treatment of his father. Taking money in the form of a bribe will be a short-term gain but will come along with long-term loss of himself in terms of loss of integrity and happiness, society and the nation as a whole.