You are posted in a district as a public servant responsible for looking into the matters of violation of Right to Education Act. You came across a case in which a poor farmer had beaten his daughter for not going to take her fifth class annual exams. Eventually, he tied her up with his motorbike and took her to the examination hall. Corporal punishment to the children by parents or teachers is a punishable offence with three-month jail term. When you enquired about it the poor farmer explained that he had done so for ensuring a better future for her daughter as he does not want his children to live in poverty in which he is living. He also says that his economic condition is poor and if he is taken to jail his children will face severe hardships. (a) What are the options available to you? (b) Evaluate each of these options and choose the option which you would adopt, giving reasons. (15 Marks)

Mentors Comments:

  • Introduce your answer by identifying the ethical dilemma involved in this case for you, as a public servant.
  • List the various courses of action you can take.
  • Evaluate the listed action in terms of logical thinking that went behind it and justify the best option among them.

Answer:

This case presents a unique situation in which a poor father has beaten his child to send her to school and has fallen into the trap of law. The administrator who is responsible for overseeing the law is presented with an ethical dilemma – whether to follow his duty according to rules or act in good faith by considering the situation of the person and make an exception with the case.

In such a context, as a public servant, the following options will be available:

  • Establish his offence as evidently he is a culprit in a crime that is considered as serious according to the law.
  • Consider his disparate situation as a poor farmer spending hard-earned money on his child’s education and leaving him after a strict warning.
  • Try to understand why children are not willing to go to school and take appropriate measures accordingly.

Following consideration will go behind the above course of actions:

  1. Establishing the offence of father and punishing him has both merits and demerits attached to it. The merits will be that I will fulfil my duty in strict observance of the law, it ensures justice to the aggrieved child, It acts as a deterrence for parents and teachers. 

However, this step comes with more demerits, as punishing the poor farmer desperate to provide education to his child will amount to blind observance of law ignoring the circumstances in which crime has happened. Further, there would be practical difficulty as who will take care of the child when her father will go to jail. Punishing the child will amount to punishing the child more as she comes from a poor farmer family. Any punishment might change the father’s attitude towards the child as he might turn hostile and noncaring for his whole life after his release. This step overlooks the reasons as to why the child is unwilling to go to school.

2. Giving due consideration to the situation of the father and the child and setting him free after strict warning. This step has the merit of acting in good faith considering the totality of the situation and showing empathy both with poor father and child as it saves her from the consequences of punishing the father. Further, it will save the family from financial hardship. Since the farmer had taken the decision with a good intention, he may be given benefits for it. The action of a farmer may end up educating his daughter and bring the family out of poverty. The demerit of the action is if through the media or otherwise this case goes in the public domain then I may face disciplinary action for not implementing the law properly. Moreover, it will encourage, or at least will not deter, others to exercise corporal punishment.

3. Knowing why children show unwillingness to go to school is important to prevent corporal punishment. It may be the case that due to fear of corporal punishment in the school, the child is showing resistance for going to the school. Further, such measures need to be taken, which increase the willingness of children to go to school.

I believe that I can choose both the second and third options of showing restraint and give due consideration to the situation of farmer and child and taking substantive measure to prevent corporal punishment in both schools and home.

 

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