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

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Oxfam on WB project: ICT 'ineffective', privatised learning to worsen gender divide

By Rajiv Shah 
A top multinational NGO, with presence in several developed and developing countries, has taken strong exception to the World Bank part-funding Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in six Indian states – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha – for its emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled approaches for teacher development, student assessment and digital platform for early childhood education.