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Ethics and Integrity -2014: Answer Writing Challenge – 47


04 October 2014

As a Block Development Officer, you were invited to preside over a Gram Sabha meeting in one of Gram Panchayats falling under your jurisdiction. The Gram Sabha was called to take a decision on two crucial things: to identify and confiscate fake job cards used under MGNREGA scheme and to choose the beneficiaries to allot houses under Indira Awas Yojana. You had ordered a month ago to all Gram Panchayat secretaries to conduct programs to create awareness and advertise about coming Gram Sabha so that people would participate in large numbers.

Unfortunately, on the day of Gram Sabha to which you were invited, very few villagers turned up. It is mandatory that at least one tenth of members of Gram Sabha (those whose names are in electoral rolls) attend the Gram Sabha. But on that day less than one tenth were in attendance. At the same time, all the Panchayat members were present. They all insisted that the Gram Sabha should continue as people would slowly come and attend as the meeting progressed. Somehow you were convinced and the meeting started. Those few who attended were chosen by vote to get homes allotted after verification that they met the criteria under the Indira Awas Scheme. Job card verification was not possible as there were no people at the meeting.

Next day you received a complaint by a villager accusing Panchayat members of coercing Panchayat Secretary to conduct Gram Sabha on a date when villagers had gone out to neighbouring village to attend a festival. According to the complaint this was done to stop the identification of fake job cards, which some elected Panchayat members had themselves created to siphon off money. The complaint also alleged that you and Panchayat ecretary had taken bribe from Panchayat members to conduct a fake Gram Sabha meeting. There was also allegation that beneficiaries who got allotted IAY houses were actually all relatives of Panchayat members present on the day of Gram Sabha.

1) Identify the major issues and your options in the case study. (150 Words)

2) As a responsible officer what were your duties prior to conducting Gram Sabha and what course of action you should follow after receiving the complaint. (200 Words)