Tuesday, February 16

Need for Whistle blower and Activist Protection Act in India

Need for Whistle blower and Activist Protection

The ideology we hold against corrupt practices in our country time and again are questioned.

Yesterday RTI activist Shashidhar Mishra known as ‘Khabri Lal’ in the area for his knack to expose scams in the welfare schemes through RTI was shot in his head. criminals in Begusarai dist, Bihar.

The murder of Satyendra Dubey, a government engineer who exposed corruption in the national highway building program forced us to ask for our Rights in Democracy. His death was neither the first, nor will be the last that vested interests will perpetrate, but Dubey’s death uniquely encouraged the whistleblowers demand for an act.

Every one believed that as a result of supreme sacrifice of Manjunath, pricing anomaly of selling kerosene at highly subsidized prices will be removed finally. Time has proven us wrong. It has only worsened.
The murder of Shanmughan Manjunath, a manager at a state-owned oil company whose body was found riddled with bullets in the back seat of his car for his cause to fight against selling of impure gasoline raised the question of safety of the whistleblowers.

Hundreds of people are murdered AND threatened every day all over India.

The insensitivity of the administration stand exposed. The FIR is not written. Security is not given. Harassment and victimization of whistleblowers is the norm Inspite of legislation, or they are ignored.

The democracies like USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand have whistleblower protection Bill. With one telephone call to the media, one video on YouTube, one letter to the right public official, a corrupt can be brought to its knees by a whistleblower.

If we want to have participation form the public it is the duty in the constitution to uphold rule of law and it is with the help of the law that a sense of security can be inculcated in the mind of the common man.

We need affirmative whistle-blowing task to report incidents of others violating rules of ethics. Ignoring proposed legislation like the Public Interest Disclosure (Protection of Informers) Bill (PIDB drafted in 2007 submitted by Former Supreme Court Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy needs attention.

India passed a federal Freedom of Information Bill in 2003 but was void of the Whistleblowers Act recommended by the Constitution Review Commission in 2002. In 1999, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had advocated a Whistleblower Act. Although such legislation found support with the Central Vigilance Commission and the Constitutional Review Commission, the proposal/ the Draft bill remains in cold storage to date.

Satyendra Dubey's death merits attention and a subsequent Public Interest Litigation urges the Supreme Court to direct the Centre to evolve a system to ensure protection to anybody who complains to the Government against corruption. His request for keeping his identity secret was duly rejected by the than officials. Dubey ended up paying with his life for drawing the PMO's attention to the corruption in the system. The PMO could have averted his death if they had kept his identity a secret, but denied the request.

The need for a Whistle-blowers (Protection) Act in India is felt very heavily because we are ranked high in the level of corruption in the Global Competitiveness Report Index and Survey of the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd.

A protection of law to a Whistle-blower will be boosting his moral fiber to disclose the corrupt practices in his knowledge. The bill will attract others also to whistle-blow for a better future of his country.
India lacks a progress on curbing corruption. The Political consensus is awaited. The leader who came in power by peoples mandate does not care.

The Lokpal Bill, 1996, drawn up ostensibly to root out corruption, introduced in Parliament several times awaits the approval of both the Houses. Enactment of the Bill into law is one of the promises made in the Common Minimum Programmes of the ruling United Progressive Alliance as part of administrative reforms.
It is still clear the government has a long way to go in its fight against corruption and organized crime. India can be successful if there is a strong commitment to the strict separation of executive, legislative and judicial power.

On 3rd March, 2006, The Whistleblowers (Protection in Public Interest Disclosures) Bill, 2006 was introduced to provide for protection from criminal or civil liability, departmental inquiry, demotion, harassment and discrimination of whistle blowers, i.e., the persons who bring to light specific instances of illegality, criminality, corruption in any Government, public or private enterprise. However the bill is yet to be passed and assented to by the President.

A robust law is awaited for our protection. Pro-whistle blower laws need to be enacted – Corruption in India is a mega industry to which public exposes are no match.

Invent India.

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