Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude
UPSC Syllabus for Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude
Case Studies on above issues.
5. (b) Write short notes on the following in 30 words each:
i) Constitutional morality
ii) Conflict of interest
iii) Probity in public life
iv) Challenges of digitalization
v) Devotion to duty
His was a professional company and his local bosses were under pressure from their London-based HO to show some positive results. In the last performance review meeting taken by the Executive Director (India Head), he was reprimanded for his poor performance. He assured them that his division is working on a special contract from the Ministry of Defence for a secret installation near Gwalior and tender is being submitted shortly.
He was under extreme pressure and he was deeply perturbed. What aggravated the situation further was a warning from the top that if the deal is not clinched in favour of the company, his division might have to be closed and he may have to quit his lucrative job.
There was another dimension which was causing him deep mental torture and agony. This pertained to his personal precarious financial health. He was a single earner in the family with two school-college going children and his old ailing mother. The heavy expenditure on education and medical was causing a big strain to his monthly pay packet. Regular EMI for housing loan taken from bank unavoidable and any default would render him liable for severe legal action.
In the above backdrop, he was hoping for some miracle to happen. There was sudden turn of events. His Secretary informed that a gentleman Subhas Verma wanted to see him as he was interested in the position of Manager which was to be filled by him in the company. He further brought to his notice that his CV has been received through the office of the Minister of Defence.
During interview of the candidate-Subhash Verma, he found him technically sound, resourceful and experienced marketeer. He seemed to be well-conversant with tendering procedures and having knack of follow-up and liaising in this regard Prabhat felt that he was better choice than the rest of the candidates who were recently interviewed by him in the last few days.
Subhash Verma also indicated that he was in possession of the copies of the bid documents that the Unique Electronics Ltd. would be submitting the next day to the Defence Ministry for their tender. He offered to hand over those documents subject to his employment in the company on suitable terms and conditions. He made it clear that in the process, the Sterling Electric Ltd. could outbid their rival company and get the bid and hefty Defence Ministry order. He indicated that it will be win-win situation for both-him and the company.
Prabhat was absolutely stunned. It was a mixed feeling of shock and thrill. He was uncomfortable and perspiring. If accepted, all his problems would vanish instantly and he may be rewarded for securing the much awaited tender and thereby boosting company’s sales and financial health. He was in a fix as to the future course of action. He was wonder-struck at the guts of Subhash Verma in having surreptitiously removing his own company papers and offering to the rival company for a job. Being an experienced person, he was examining the pros and cons of the proposal/situation and he asked him to come the next day.
(a) Discuss the ethical issues involved in the case.
(b) Critically examine the options available to Prabhat in the above situation.
(c) Which of the above would be the most appropriate for Prabhat and why?
(a) What are the options available to Ramesh as the Director of the Home Department of the bordering State?
(b) What option should Ramesh adopt and why?
(c) Critically evaluate each of the options.
(d) What are the ethical dilemmas being faced by Ramesh?
(e) What policy measures would you suggest to combat the menace of infiltration of illegal migrants from the neighbouring country?
(a) What are the options available with Ashok to cope up with the situation?
(b) Critically evaluate/examine each of the options identified by Ashok.
(c) What are the ethical dilemmas being faced by Ashok?
(d) Which of the options, do you think, would be the most appropriate for Ashok to adopt and why?
(e) In the above scenario, what type of training would you suggest for police officers posted to such districts where stone mining illegal activities are rampant? (250 words)
10. You have done MBA from a reputed institution three years back but could not get campus placement due to COVID-19 generated recession. However, after a lot of persuasion and series of competitive tests including written and interview, you managed to get a job in a leading shoe company. You have aged parents who are dependent and staying with you. You also recently got married after getting this decent job. You were allotted the Inspection Section which is responsible for clearing the final product. In first one year, you learnt your job well and was appreciated for your performance by the management. The company is doing good business for last five years in domestic market and this year it is decided even to export to Europe and Gulf countries. However, one large consignment to Europe was rejected by their Inspecting Team due to certain poor quality and was sent back. The top management ordered that ibid consignment to be cleared for the domestic market. As a part of Inspecting Team, you observed the glaring poor quality and brought to the knowledge of the Team Commander. However, the top management advised all the members of the team to overlook these defects as the management cannot bear such a huge loss. Rest of the team members except you promptly signed and cleared the consignment for domestic market, overlooking glaring defects. You again brought to the knowledge of the Team Commander that such consignment, if cleared even for domestic market, will tarnish the image and reputation of the company and will be counter-productive in the long run. However, you were further advised by the top management that if you do not clear the consignment, the company will not hesitate to terminate your services citing certain innocuous reasons.
(a) Under the given conditions, what are the options available to you as a member of the Inspecting Team?
(b) Critically evaluate each of the options listed by you.
(c) What option would you adopt and why?
(d) What are the ethical dilemmas being faced by you?
(e) What can be the consequences of overlooking the observations raised by the Inspecting Team?
11. Rakesh was working as a Joint Commissioner in Transport department of a city. As a part of his job profile, among others, he was entrusted with the task of overseeing the control and functioning of City Transport Department. A case strike by drivers’ union of City Transport Department over the issue of compensation to a driver who died on duty while driving the bus came up before him for decision in the matter.
He gathered that the driver (deceased) was plying Bus No. 528 which passed through busy and congested roads of the city. It so happened that near an intersection on the way, there was an accident involving a middle-aged man. It was found that there was altercation between the driver and the car driver. Heated arguments between them led to fight and the driver gave him a a blow. Lots of passersby had gathered and tried to intervene but without success. Eventually, both of them were badly injured and profusely bleeding and were taken to the nearby hospital. The driver succumbed to the injuries and could not be saved. The middle-aged driver’s condition was also critical but after a day, he recovered and was discharged. Police had immediately come to the spot and FIR was registered. Police investigation revealed that the quarrel in was started by the bus driver and he had resorted to physical violence. There was an exchange of blows between them.
The City Transport Department management is considering of not giving any extra compensation to the driver’s (deceased) family. The family is very aggrieved. depressed and agitated against the discriminatory and non-sympathetic approach of the City Transport Department management. The bus driver (deceased) was 52 years of age, was survived by his wife and two school-college going daughters. He was the sole earner of the family. The City Transport Department workers’ union took up this case and when found no favourable response from the management, decided to go on strike. The union’s demand was twofold. First was full extra compensation as given to other drivers who died on duty and secondly employment to one family member. The strike has continued for 10 days and the deadlock remains.
(a) What are the options available to Rakesh to meet the above situation?
(b) Critically examine each of the options identified by Rakesh
(c) What are the ethical dilemmas being faced by Rakesh?
(d) What course of action would Rakesh adopt to diffuse the above situation?
12. You are appointed as an officer heading the section in Environment Pollution Control Board to ensure compliance and its follow-up. In that region, there were large number of small and medium industries which had been granted clearance. You learnt that these industries provide employment to many migrant worker. Most of the industrial units have got environmental clearance certificate in their possession. The environmental clearance seeks to curb industries and projects that supposedly hamper environment and living species in the region, But in practice. most of these units remain to be polluting units in several ways like air, water and soil pollution. As such, local people encountered persistent health problems.
It was confirmed that majority of the industries were violating environmental compliance. You issued notice to all the industrial units to apply for fresh environmental clearance certificate from the competent authority. However, your action met with hostile response from a section of the industrial units, other vested interest persons and a section of the local politicians. The workers also became hostile to you as they felt that your action would lead to the closure of these industrial units, and the resultant unemployment will lead to insecurity uncertainty in their livelihood. Many owners of the industries approached you with the plea that you should not initiate harsh action as it would compel them their units, and cause huge financial loss, shortage of their products in the market. These would obviously add to the sufferings of the labourers and the consumers alike. The labour union also sent you representation requesting against the closure of the units. You simultaneously started receiving threats from unknown corners. You however received supports from some of your colleagues, who advised you to act freely to ensure environmental compliance. Local NGOs also came to your support and they demanded the closure of the polluting units immediately.
(a) What are the options available to you under the given situation?
(b) Critically examine the options listed by you.
(c) What type of mechanism would you suggest to ensure environmental compliance?
(d)What are the ethical dilemmas you faced in exercising your option?
(a) “Every work has got to pass through hundreds of difficulties before succeeding. Those that persevere will see the light, sooner or later” – Swami Vivekananda (150 words)
7. Sunil is a young civil servant and has a reputation for his competence, integrity, dedication and relentlessness in pursuit of difficult and onerous jobs. Considering his profile, he was picked up by his bosses to handle a very challenging and sensitive assignment. He was posted in a tribal-dominated district notorious for illegal sand mining. Excavating sand from river belts and transporting it through trucks and selling them in the black market was rampant. This illegal sand mining mafia was operating with the support of local functionaries and tribal musclemen who in turn were bribing selected poor tribals and had kept the tribals under fear and intimidation.
Sunil being a sharp and energetic officer immediately grasped the ground realities and the modus operandi followed by the mafia through their devious and dubious mechanism. On making inquiries, he gathered that some of their own office employees are in hand and glove with them and have developed close unholy nexus. Sunil initiated stringent action against them and started conducting raids on their illegal operations of the movement of trucks filled with sand. The mafia got rattled as not many officers in the past had taken such strong steps against the mafia. Some of the office employees who were allegedly close to the mafia informed them that the officer is determined to clean up the mafia’s illegal sand mining operations in that district and may cause them irreparable damage.
The mafia turned hostile and launched a counter-offensive. The tribal musclemen and mafia started threatening him with dire consequences. His family (wife and old mother) were stalked and were under virtual surveillance and thus causing mental torture, agony and stress to all of them. The matter assumed serious proportions when a muscleman came to his office and threatened him to stop raids etc., otherwise, his fate will not be different than some of his predecessors (ten years back one officer was killed by the mafia)
a) Identify the different options available to Sunil in attending this situation
b) Critically evaluate each of the options listed by you.
c) Which of the above, do you think, would be most appropriate for Sunil to adopt and why? (250 words)
8. You are Vice Principal of a degree college in one of the middle-class towns. The principal has recently retired and management is looking for his replacement. There are also feelers that the management may promote you as Principal. In the meantime, during the annual examination, the flying squad which came from the university caught two students red-handed involving in unfair means. A senior lecturer of the college was personally helping these students in this act. This senior lecturer also happens to be close to the management. One of the students was the son of a local politician who was responsible for getting college affiliated to the present reputed university. The second student was the son of a local businessman who has donated maximum funds for running the college. You immediately informed the management regarding this unfortunate incident. The management told you to resolve the issue with the flying squad at any cost. They further said that such an incident will not only tarnish the image of the college but also the politician and the businessman are very important personalities for the functioning of the college. You were also given hint that your further promotion to Principal depends on your capability in resolving this issue with the flying squad. In the meantime, you were intimidated by your administrative officer that certain members of the student union are protesting outside the college gate against the senior lecturer and the students involved in this incident are demanding strict action against defaulters.
a) Discuss the ethical issues involved in the case.
b) Critically examine the options available with you as Vice Principal. What option will you adopt and why? (250 words)
9. An elevated corridor is being constructed to reduce traffic congestion in the capital of a particular state. You have been selected as project manager of this prestigious project on your professional competence and experience. The deadline is to complete the project in the next two years by 30 June 2021, since the project is to be inaugurated by the Chief Minister before the elections are announced in the second week of July 2021. While carrying out the surprise inspection by the inspecting team, a minor crack was noticed in one of the piers of the elevated corridor possibly due to poor material used. You immediately informed the chief engineer and stopped further work. It was assessed by you that a minimum of three piers of the elevated corridor have to be demolished and reconstructed. But this process will delay the project minimum by four to six months. But the chief engineer overruled the observation of the inspecting team on the ground that it was a minor crack that will not in any way impact the strength and durability of the bridge. He ordered you to overlook the observation of the inspecting team and continue working with the same speed and tempo. He informed you that the minister does not want any delay as he wants the Chief Minister to inaugurate the elevated corridor before the elections are declared. Also informed you that the contractor is a far relative of the minister and he wants him to finish the project. He also gave you a hint that your further promotion as an additional chief engineer is under consideration by the ministry. However, you strongly felt that the minor crack in the pier in the elevated corridor will adversely affect the health and life of the bridge and therefore it will be very dangerous not to repair the elevated corridor.
a) Under the given conditions, what are the options available to you as a project manager?
b) What are the ethical dilemmas being faced by the project manager and his response to overcome such challenges?
c) What are the professional challenges likely to be faced by the project manager and his response to overcome such challenges?
d) What can be the consequences of overlooking the observation raised by the inspecting team?
10. The corona virus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has quickly spread to various countries.
As of May 8th, 2020, in India 56342 positive cases of corona had been reported. India with a population of more than 1.35 billion had difficulty in controlling the transmission of corona virus among its population. Multiple strategies became necessary to handle this outbreak. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India raised awareness about this outbreak and to take all necessary actions to control the spread of COVID -19. Indian Government implemented a 55-day lockdown throughout the country to reduce the transmission of the virus. Schools and colleges had shifted to alternative modes of teaching-learning-evaluation and certification. Online mode became popular during these days.
India was not prepared for a sudden onslaught of such a crisis due to limited infrastructure in terms of human resources, money and other facilities needed for taking care of this situation. This disease did not spare anybody irrespective of caste, creed, religion on one hand and ‘have and have not’ on the other. Deficiencies in hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, ambulances, hospital staff and crematorium were the most crucial aspects.
You are a hospital administrator in a public hospital at the time when corona virus had attacked a large number of people and patients were pouring into the hospital day in and day out.
a) What are your criteria and justification for putting your clinical and non-clinical staff to attend to the patients knowing fully well that it is a highly infectious disease and resources and infrastructure are limited?
b) If yours is a private hospital, whether your jurisdiction and decision would remain the same as that of a public hospital?
11. A reputed food product company based in India developed a food product for the international market and started exporting the same after getting necessary approvals. The company announced this achievement and also indicated that soon the product will be made available for domestic consumers with almost the same quality and health benefits. Accordingly, the company got its product approved by the domestic competent authority and launched the product in the Indian market. The company could increase its market share over a period of time and earned substantial profit both domestically and internationally. However, the random sample test conducted by the inspecting team found the product being sold domestically in variance with the approval obtained from the competent authority. On further investigation, it was also discovered that the food company was not only selling products that were not meeting the health standard of the country but also selling the rejected export products in the domestic market. This episode adversely affected the reputation and profitability of the food company.
a) What action do you visualize should be taken by the competent authority against the food company for violating the laid down domestic food standard and selling rejected export products in the domestic market?
b) What course of action is available with the food company to resolve the crisis and bring back its lost reputation?
c) Examine the ethical dilemma involved in the case. (250 words)
12. Pawan is working as an officer in the State Government for the last ten years. As a part of the routine transfer, he was posted to another department. He joined a new office along with five other colleagues. The head of the office was a senior officer conversant with the functioning of the office. As a part of general inquiry, Pawan gathered that his senior officer carries the reputation of being a difficult and insensitive person having his own disturbed family life. Initially, all seem to go well. However, after some time Pawan felt that the senior officer was belittling him and at times unreasonable. Whatever suggestions given or views expressed by Pawan in the meetings were summarily rejected and the senior officer would express displeasure in the presence of others. It became a pattern of the boss’s style of functioning to show him in bad light highlighting his shortcomings and humiliating him publicly. It became apparent that though there are no serious work-related problems/shortcomings, the senior officer was always on one pretext or the other and would scold and shout at him. The continuous harassment and public criticism of Pawan resulted in the loss of confidence, self-esteem and equanimity. Pawan realized that his relations with his senior officer are becoming more toxic and due to this, he perpetually tensed, anxious and stressed. His mind was occupied with negativity and caused him mental torture, anguish and agony. Eventually, it badly affected his personal and family life. He was no longer joyous, happy and contented even at home. Rather without any reason, he would lose his temper with his wife and other family members. The family environment was no longer pleasant and congenial. His wife who was always supportive of him also became a victim of his negativity and hostile behaviour. Due to harassment and humiliation suffering by him in the office, comfort and happiness virtually vanished from his life. Thus, it damaged his physical and mental health.
a) What are the options available with Pawan to cope up with the situation?
b) What approach Pawan should adopt for bringing, peace, tranquillity and a congenial environment in the office and home?
c) As an outsider, what are your suggestions for both boss and subordinate to overcome this situation and for improving the work performance, mental and emotional hygiene?
d) In the above scenario, what type of training would you suggest for officers at various levels in the government offices? (250 words)
3. (b) “The will to power exists, but it can be tamed and be guided by rationality and principles of moral duty.’ Examine this statement in the context of international relations. (150 words)
4. (a) Distinguish between laws and rules. Discuss the role of ethics in formulating them. (150 words)
Finance Ministry was asked for a timely allocation of an additional ₹6000 crores for these two developmental projects. It was decided to recommend re-appropriation of this entire amount from the NHS allocation. The file was forwarded to Budget Department for their comments and further processing. On studying the case file, Rajesh Kumar realized that this re-appropriation may cause inordinate delay in the execution of NHS, a project much publicized in the rallies of senior politicians. Correspondingly, non-availability of finances would cause financial loss in the SEZ and national embarrassment due to delayed payment in an international project. Rajesh Kumar discussed the matter with his seniors. He was con politically sensitive situation needs to be processed immediately. Rajesh Kumar realized that diversion of funds from NHS could raisé difficult questions for the government in the Parliament. Discuss the following with reference to this case : (a) Ethical issues involved in re-appropriation of funds from a welfare project to the developmental projects. (b) Given the need for proper utilization of public funds, discuss the options available to Rajesh Kumar. Is resigning a worthy option ? (250 words)
8. The Chairman of Bharat Missiles Ltd (BML) was watching a program on TV wherein the Prime Minister was addressing the nation on the necessity of developing a self-reliant India. He subconsciously nodded in agreement and smiled to himself as he mentally reviewed BML’s journey in the past two decades. BML had admirably progressed from producing first generation anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) to designing and producing state of the art ATGM weapon systems that would be the envy of any army. He sighed in reconciliation with his assumptions that the government would probably not alter the status quo of a ban on export of military weaponry. To his surprise, the very next day he got a telephone call from the Director General, Ministry of Defence, asking him to discuss the modalities of increasing BML production of ATGMs as there is a possibility of exporting the same to a friendly foreign country. The Director General wanted the Chairman to discuss the details with his staff at Delhi next week.
Two days later, at a press conference, the Defence Minister stated that he aims to double the current weapons export levels within five years. This would give an impetus to financing the development and manufacture of indigenous weapons in the country. He also stated that all indigenous arms manufacturing nations have a very good record of international arms trade.
As Chairman of BML, what are your views on the following points ?
(a) As an arms exporter of a responsible nation like India, what are the ethical issues involved in arms trade ?
(b) List five ethical factors that would influence the decision to sell arms to foreign governments. (250 words)
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)
Critically analyse the story of APW and state the ethical issues involved. Do you consider APW as a role model for development of backward areas ? Give reasons. (250 words)
In your opinion what ethical issues arose in the current migrant crisis ?
What do you understand by an ethical care giving state ?
What assistance can the civil society render to mitigate the sufferings of migrants in similar situations? (250 words)
3. (b) What is meant by ‘crisis of conscience’? How does it manifest in the public domain? (150 words)
(a) “An unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates (150 words)
In such trying circumstances, what will be your response? Examine the qualities of a public servant which will be required to manage the situations. (250 words)
In the recent past, a few instances have surfaced where in civil servants has been implicated for bonafide mistakes. They have often been prosecuted and even imprisoned. These instances have greatly rattled the moral fiber of the civil servants.
How does this trend affect the functioning of civil services? What measures can be taken to ensure that honest civil servants are not implicated for bonafide mistakes on their part? Justify your answer. (250 words)
After sometime a women employee launched a formal complaint to the management against the marketing executive about sexually harassing her. Faced with the companies’ indifference, in not taking cognizance of her grievances, she lodged an FIR with police.
Realizing the sensitivity and gravity of the situation, the company called the women employee to negotiate. In that she was offered a hefty sum of money to withdraw the complaint and the FIR and also give in writing that the marketing executive is not involved in the case.
Identify the ethical issues involved in this case. What options are available to the women employee? (250 words)
However, in the subsequent decades the situation has changed. There are instances of the political executive insisting upon the permanent executives to follow its agenda. Respect for an appreciation of an upright bureaucrats has declined. There is an increasing tendency among the political executive to get involved in routine administrative matters such as transfers, posting etc. Under this scenario, there is a definitive trend towards ‘politicization of bureaucracy’. The raising materialism and acquisitiveness in social life has also adversely impacted upon the ethical values of both the permanent executive and the political executive.
What are the consequences of this ‘politicization of bureaucracy? Discuss. (250 words)
If you are the same police officer, identify the various dimensions of the crisis. Based on your understanding, suggest measures to deal with the crisis. (250 words)
a) Anticipating specific threats to ethical standards and integrity in the civil services,
Strengthening the ethical competence of civil servant and
b) Developing administrative processes and practices which promote ethical values and integrity in civil services.
c) Suggest institutional measures to address the above three issues. (250 words)
2. (a) What is mean by public interest? What are the principles and procedures to be followed by the civil servants in public interest? (150 words)
What do you understand by this statement in the present-day scenario? Explain. (150 words)
6. What do each of the following quotations mean to you in the present context?
(a) “The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject anything, is not whether it has any evil in it; but whether it has more evil than good. There are few things wholly evil or wholly good. Almost everything, especially of governmental policy, is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgement of the preponderance between them is continually demanded. ”Abraham Lincoln (150 words)
6. (c) “Falsehood takes the place of truth when it results in unblemished common good.” _ Tirukkural (150 words)
The criteria to be a beneficiary are the following:
- 60 years of age or above.
- Belonging to a reserved community.
- Family income of less than 1 Lakh rupees per annum.
- Post-treatment prognosis is likely to be high to make a positive difference to the quality of life of the beneficiary.
How should Rakesh respond to the situation? (250 words)
Meanwhile, the Minister concerned insists that you realign the road in such a way that it comes closer to his 20 acres farmhouse. He also suggests that he would facilitate the purchase of a big plot of land in your wife’s name at the prevailing rate which is very nominal, in and around the proposed mega road project. He also tries to convince you by saying that there is no harm in it as he is buying the land legally. He even promises to supplement your savings in case you do not have sufficient funds to buy the land. However, by the act of realignment, a lot of agricultural lands has to be acquired, thereby causing a considerable financial burden on the government, and also the displacement of the farmers. As if this is not enough, it will involve cutting down of a large number of trees denuding the area of its green cover.
Faced with this situation, what will you do? Critically examine various conflicts of interest and explain what your responsibilities are as a public servant. (250 words)
The approach till now had been to view it as a law and order problem and tackle it accordingly. Raids, arrest, police cases, and criminal trials – all these had only limited impact. The problem remains as serious as ever.
Your inspections show that the parts of the district where the distillation flourishes are economically, industrially and educationally backward. Agriculture is badly affected by poor irrigation facilities. Frequent clashes among communities gave boost to illicit distillation. No major initiatives had taken place in the past either from the government’s side or from social organizations to improve the lot of the people.
Which new approach will you adopt to bring the problem under control? (250 words)
The unit was set up 10 years ago and was in full swing till recently. The pollution caused by the industrial effluents was affecting the land, water and crops in the area. It was also causing serious health problems to human beings and animals. This gave rise to a series of agitation thousands of people took part, creating a law and order problem necessitating stern police action. Following the public outcry, the State government ordered the closure of the factory.
The closure of the factory resulted in the unemployment of not only those workers who were engaged in the factory but also those who were working in the ancillary units. It also very badly affected those industries which depended on the chemicals manufactured by it.
As a senior officer entrusted with the responsibility of handling this issue, how are you going to address it? (250 words)
You are heading the tax investigation agency of that region. During an inspection of the doctor’s clinic, your officers have found out some major irregularities. A few of them are substantial which had resulted in considerable withholding of tax that should be paid by him now. The doctor is cooperative. He undertakes to pay the tax immediately.
However, there are certain other deficiencies in his tax compliance which are purely technical in nature. If these technical defaults are pursued by the agency, considerable time and energy of the doctor will be diverted to issues which are not so serious, urgent or even helpful to the tax collection process. Further, in all probability, it will hamper the prospects of the hospital coming up.
There are two options before you:
1) Taking a broader view, ensure substantial tax compliance and ignore defaults that are merely technical in nature.
2) Pursue the matter strictly and proceed on all fronts, whether substantial or merely technical.
As the head of the tax agency, which course of action will you opt and why? (250 words)
12. Edward Snowden, a computer expert and former CIA administrator, released confidential Government documents to the press about the existence of Government surveillance programmes. According to many legal experts and the US Government, his action violated the Espionage act of 1971, which identified the leak of State secret as an act of treason. Yet, despite the fact that he broke the law, Snowden argued that he had a moral obligation to act. He gave a justification for his “whistle blowing” by stating that he had a duty “to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”
According to Snowden, the Government’s violation of privacy had to be exposed regardless of legality since more substantive issues of social action and public morality were involved here. Many agreed with Snowden. Few argued that he broke the law and compromised national security, for which he should be held accountable.
Do you agree that Snowden’s actions were ethically justified even if legally prohibited? Why or why not? Make an argument by weighing the competing values in this case (250 words )