Ethics Case Study

The leader of a prominent social group has been facing trial in a criminal
case. The court is expected to deliver the verdict in two days. Ahead of the
verdict, a large number of members of this group from various parts of
State have flocked en masse to the city where the court is located. They
threaten to go on a rampage if their leader is convicted and jailed. They
have started camping in the city, along many roads and in various public
parks. There are reports that the followers may be stocking up on arms,
petrol and blunt weapons. The rampage threatens to spill into the
neighbouring States also.
You are the Chief Secretary of the State.
i) What are the measures you will take to ensure that there is no disruption of
public order, regardless of the verdict?
ii) What intervention would you consider to prevent any similar mass hysteria
in the future?
(300 words – 25 marks)

This case present ethical issue where a section of society following a cult blindly,
which led to the formation of negative attitude against that State, and which in
turn may guide undesirable behaviour. Change in attitude is beyond the scope of
this question but should be a long term strategy.
Stakeholders:
 Myself i.e. as Chief Secretary
 Administration
 Followers of the cult
 Society at large
In this situation, a civil servant not only apply her administrative skill but also
aptitude, emotional intelligence, foundational values etc. Since followers of cult
gathered includes women, children and many good people came in blind faith,
any violent repressive action would be detrimental. At the same time, those who
are with arms & ammunitions and gathered to violate law & order should be dealt
with sternly, ensuring minimum damage to loss of lives or properties.
Following measures must be taken:
Short-term:
Political measures:
 Talk to prominent leaders of the cult and request them to maintain peace.
 Reach out to all political parties requesting them to not issue any controversial
statements on the case.
Administrative measures:
 Prohibitory orders to be imposed across all relevant districts in the State
(Section 144) to ensure that there is no build up of crowd.
 Sealing of State borders and suspend the rail/road service to ensure cult
supporters from gathering as well as safeguarding passengers and property.
 Suspend mobile Internet services and bulk SMS services to disrupt any
moves to organise and coordinate violence on a large scale.
 Keep the general public aware through regular briefings on the situation
through regular media and social media.
 Coordinate with the administration of the adjacent states to prevent violence
from one state spilling into another, and set up joint control rooms if
necessary.
Security measures:
 Call required number of companies of paramilitary forces to assist the police
forces in maintaining law and order.
 Deploy drones to keep an eye on the situation.
 Search & seizure operation to ensure that no arm & ammunition remains with
followers.
 Preventive detention of elements known to be prone to violence.

Long-term
 Awareness campaigns must be run to ensure people don’t blindly follow any
cult, and so they learn of exploitation of followers happening behind the
scenes.
 In many cases, blind followers of such cults are those belonging to the socially
and economically disadvantaged, looking for an identity. Addressing their
basic grievances may help them from getting induced into these cults
 Proceedings in serious accusations of crime, like that of rape, especially
against leaders of such cults should be expedited as they have ready access
to large number of potential victims. Allowing them to function due to political
reasons will only help increase their charisma and power projections.
 Lessons should be learnt from such incidents and Standard Operating
Procedures (SOP) may be prepared so the administration is more geared up
to tackle such situations in the future.
Due to many political-social-economic issues prevailing in society, these
unethical practices are prominent where people are used as means by cult
personalities to achieve their end goals. Immanuel Kant states that it is immoral
to use another person merely as a means to an end and that people must, under
all circumstances, be treated as ends in themselves.
As Swami Vivekananda said “The awakening of masses must come first then
only can any real good come about for the country”. The state with the assistance
of society can foster and promote the common interest of people, which can bring
justice, honesty, peace etc

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