2018 GS 4 PYQ on Case study
X is a leading medical practitioner in a city. He has set up a charitable trust through which he plans to establish a super specialty hospital in the city to cater to the medical needs of all sections of the society. Incidentally, that part of the State had been neglected over the years. The proposed hospital would be a boon for the region.
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:
Taking a broader view, ensure substantial tax compliance and ignore defaults that are merely technical in nature.
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?
- Stakeholders Involved
- Doctor X
- Me as the head of tax investigation agency
- People of city
- Facts Involved
- Philanthropic doctor wants to build hospital for poor.
- Irregularity in tax payment on part of doctor
- Technical procedures which may hamper the prospects of hospital.
- Dilemmas Involved
- Means versus Ends
- Objectivity vs Subjectivity
- Values Involved
- Empathy and justice for local people
- Right to health of citizens
- Virtues of Objectivity and Legality of a civil servant.
- Hospital as a common good
- Trust and credibility of the government
Analysing both Options
Taking broader view aiming towards the service of common public and thus ignoring the technicalities
- UTILITARIAN PRINCIPLE lens when applied to the above case, technical issues can be easily ignored as it will lead to largest balance of benefits over harm.
- As Mahabharata preaches – “Saving a life that is in jeopardy is the origin of dharma”, thus this would be in-line with dharma to save the lives.
- X can focus more on his noble profession of treating patients rather than wasting his time and energy in the complex procedures of tax filings.
- Social capital of tax agencies may increase resulting in more tax compliance.
- X will remain motivated and will have demonstration effect on others.
- Tax agency will not have reputation of harassing citizens.
Pursuing the matter strictly, even on technical grounds
- Will Lead to fulfilment of professional duty of being legal and rational.
- Bhagavad Gita teaches to do one’s duty as highest dharma.
- As per Kant’s categorical imperative, if something cannot be made universal law it cannot be moral. We cannot accept violation of technical rules universally; hence it cannot be ignored here as well.
- Gandhiji had remarked that “a duty well performed creates a corresponding right”. Integrity of the process of tax collection will be maintained.
- Diligence, work culture, and organisational values will be safeguarded.
- Values of impartiality and non-partisanship will be safeguarded which provides credibility and legitimacy to bureaucracy.
- Corruption begins on a small scale and in benign form. However soon it snowballs into worst forms, detrimental to socioeconomic development of society
- Based on above analysis I will follow the rule in totality. However, certain steps can be taken to make the tax filing process for Dr. X and others easy and quick in the spirit of good and ethical governance so that “Dharma of saving lives can also be upheld.”
- Procedure can be relaxed only by my senior or the politician who have the discretion in this regard, I can send a report to them in this regard to fasten up the process.
- I can also help the doctor to fulfil administrative requirements in the construction of the hospital in personal capacity and become part of a noble cause.
- Stakeholders Involved