Skip to main content

Under Indian security garb whistleblower to be restricted from complaining on wrongdoing in military deals

By Our Representative
By seeking to go in for its amendment, is the Government of India ignoring the main principle underlying the Whistle Blowers Protection Act, passed by the Lok Sabha on December 27, 2011, and pushed through the Rajya Sabha on the last day of the extended session of Parliament, February 21, 2014 – to provide a “safe alternative” to silence to a person who has knowledge of or is witness to an offence or wrong doing in a public authority?
Armed with a crucial Cabinet note date May 6, 2015, a senior activist, Venkatesh Nayak of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Delhi, has alleged, “The amendments are aimed at making it nearly impossible for a citizen, official or NGO or any private entity to make a whistleblower complaint.”
Basing on the Cabinet note, Nayak says, such are the amendments that “a witness will not be able to report custodial murder or torture or custodial rape unless he obtains proof of the same under the RTI Act (CCTV camera recordings?).” Nayak received it note on July 21 from the Ministry of Personnel, Government of India, on filing a right to information (RTI) plea.
And this, believes Nayak, is being done under the garb of “justifying the need for greater protection for national security-related matters”, adding, “The Cabinet note does not justify why other categories of information such as commercial secrets, parliamentary privilege and personal privacy must be brought in as restrictions on the right to blow the whistle. These categories of information have nothing to do with national security concerns.”
Nayak says, the Cabinet note suggests that “the restrictions on the fundamental right to free speech and expression and the right to information (RTI), which is a part of that right, as well as the prohibition of espionage under the Official Secrets Act must apply to whistleblowing as well.” He wonders, “Is there anything left to complain about if all these restrictions are applied to whistleblower complaint?”
Pointing towards the “implications of the amendment proposals”, which flow “logically” from the rationale explained in the Cabinet note, Nayak underlines, “To hold that a whistleblower must be prohibited from making a complaint if it relates to national security, defence or strategic or economic interests means that no official will be allowed to blow the whistle on scandals in defence procurement or any wrong doing in the stock exchanges or botch up in military strategies or failures of intelligence agencies.”
Then, Nayak asserts, “To hold that a whistleblower must be prohibited from making a complaint related to the commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property of a private company means that no officer, private person or NGO will be allowed to blow the whistle about environmental pollution or degradation of the ecology caused by that company's actions, often occurring in collusion with or connivance of other public servants.”
He adds, “If a person makes a complaint about unsafe drugs or harmful GM crops released into the market and concerned public servants have done nothing to stop it, then he or she has to show that the information has been obtained under the RTI Act.” Only then, the government department would give whistleblower will be certified if “it falls under an exempt category and take “further action on the complaint.”
Nayak further says, “To hold that a whistleblower must be prohibited from making a complaint related to the personal information about an individual means that no officer, private person or NGO will be able to make a complaint against any public servant for submitting false certificates relating to caste, education, income or character.”
And finally, Nayak says, “To hold that a whistleblower must be prohibited from making a complaint related to the personal information about a public servant means that he cannot make a complaint of bribery against a Minister unless he has obtained the supporting records under the RTI Act.”

Comments

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk  Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.