I agree with #1.
Renfrew is the Master of Smoke and Ethics at the school Charlie attends. Renfrew has extremely high, if sometimes misguided, standards and does not do anything out of self-serving motivation. Charlie recognizes this and voluntarily goes to Renfrew for guidance. Renfrew also imposes the exact same water deprivation on himself during the interrogation, even forcing himself to drink salt water to make the deprivation just as severe. I don't condone any of this but wanted to give a broader context. Charlie does not seem to me to have an ironic bone in his body (I'm halfway through the book, past this section) so I would disagree that it was meant in any sarcastic, sardonic or ironic way. It's possible though that the author is letting his views show through Charlie's straightforward statement, which the reader in turn can judge more harshly than Charlie. The other boy in the story, Thomas, would more likely be the one to be less accepting of the status quo and of authority and to have such views.
I see it as: Pass on responsibility to this man who is so willing to carry the responsibility for such weighty matters, as evidenced by the incident with the girl.
It is also necessary to know what the incident with the girl involved. Renfrew and the man he was with were afraid of infecting the girl with their "disease" and didn't want to get too close. They also thought they were about to discover the cure for the disease that afflicts so many. Well-intentioned do-gooders who do evil -- there's no shortage of that, is there.?