Thursday, June 16, 2011

Editorial, 'THEY NEED ALL PROTECTION' in LAW ANIMATED WORLD, 15 June 2011 issue

They need all protection
possible; this, of course, doesn’t mean that other citizens do not. But whistleblowers who take much pains and run great risks in exposing various scams, oppressions and atrocities, etc. in public interest are in real danger of their lives and limbs from the corrupt and cruel lawbreakers and anti-social elements within or outside the government. Perhaps the life of Satyendra Kumar Dubey, a conscientious engineer, could have been saved if there were to be some legal mechanism at the relevant point of time to protect his anonymity and provide security. Likewise the precious life of a Satish Shetty would also not have been lost if the police were to be alert to the dangers posed to him by his land scams-exposures. More recently, Ramesh Agarwal, a social activist advocate of Chattisgarh, would not be suffering arrest, handcuffing and continuance in custody, were his revelations in a public hearing not to carry any legal risk of incrimination. Scores of RTI activists all over the country, several investigative journalists, and umpteen citizens from various walks of life fighting against corruption and malpractices are today facing grave dangers to their lives, and murders of intrepid and outspoken citizens and journalists are not infrequent either. Former Central Vigilance Commissioner, Sri N. Vittal, reveals that Satyendra Dubey’s murder and subsequent proceedings to bring the murderers to book had resulted in the Supreme Court issuing a directive to CVC to take necessary action to protect whistleblowers whereupon he had moved the Law Commission of India in the matter, which drafted a Public Interest Disclosures (Protection of Informers) Bill, 2002, but it never saw the light. And now, the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons making the disclosure Bill, 2010, reported to have been cleared by the Cabinet in August 2010 itself, has also not been moved in the parliament so far. Statutorily guaranteed effective protection for whistleblowers is certainly the desideratum and so a good beginning needs to be made by getting it enacted forthwith §§§