Skip to main content

Top Indian civil rights group warns: Will approach court if Rajya Sabha amends whistleblowers Act

By Our Representative
Top advocacy group Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), based in Delhi, has warned that if the Rajya Sabha passes the Whistle Blowers Protection (WBP) Amendment Bill, it “may have to" move courts, along with other civil society organizations, “to challenge the constitutionality of the Bill vis-a-vis basic human right to accountable governance and the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression.”
Discussions on amendment to the Act, passed in Parliament in 2011, took place in the Rajya Sabha on December 7 afternoon, and are likely to continue on December 8. The Lok Sabha has already cleared the amendments, which civil society activists believe will curb the whistleblowers’ right to expose corruption in high places in the name of national security and infringing privacy.
Taking objection to Rajya Sabha MPs cutting across party lines failing to note that the amendment Bill seeks to undermine the citizens’ “absolute right to blow the whistle on corruption, wrongdoing or the commission of offense by public servants”, CHRI’s Venkatesh Nayak said in an e-mail alert, “Importing exemptions under the RTI Act to the WBP Act wholesale is a very clever method of ensuring that no person comes forward to blow the whistle.”
Reiterating that there are in all “32 tests for whistleblowing that the NDA government would like to impose in its infinite wisdom” of amending the Bill, Nayak insisted, one should remember, “there is no bar in Article 19(2) on the right to blow the whistle on corruption, wrongdoing or any offense committed by public servants” in the 2011 Act.
“The WBP Amendment Bill seems like an attempt to introduce such an unreasonable restriction without even amending the Constitution”, Nayak said, adding, “None of the MPs who spoke on the WBP Amendment Bill pointed out clearly the difference between Section 8(1) of the RTI Act and the retrograde amendments to the WBP Act.”
He underlines, “The WBP Amendment Bill assumes that once a whistleblower complaint is made it will become publicly accessible, therefore it is necessary to protect national security, the dignity and privilege of Parliament and the Courts, commercial and trade secrets, fair investigation of and trial in crimes, intelligence informers, international relations, Cabinet secrecy and lastly personal privacy of individuals.”
Supporting the 2011 Act, Nayak says, “Nothing in the WBP Act permits the whistleblower complaint to be made public by the competent authorities. The entire scheme of the law is designed to ensure confidentiality of not only the whistleblower's identity but also the progress of the inquiry into the whistleblower complaint until a final decision is reached.”
According to Nayak, who followed the debate in Rajya Sabha, just one MP talked about the exceptions for blowing a whistle, saying that the amendment Bill is not just about safeguarding national security “but introduces 10 grounds for preventing whistleblowing.”
Yet, he underlined, “None of the MPs pointed out that the absolute bar on even making a whistleblower complaint, if they attracted the 10 grounds, was simply unacceptable in a democratic government based on the principle of the rule of law.” He commented, “Wrongdoing cannot be masked under the garb of national security or trade secrets or personal privacy.”
Worse, Nayak said, some MPs referred to the deaths of 30 whistleblowers since 2010. Suggesting that the MPs did not know the difference between whistleblowers and other RTI activists, he added, “Close to 50 RTI users and activists have lost their lives since 2005 for seeking the most mundane of information from public authorities, and this factum was worth quoting in the debate.”
Nayak explained, “To the best of my knowledge no RTI user or activist was attacked or murdered for seeking information about national security or trade secrets. They lost their lives demanding transparency in the spending of public funds, public decision making process and reasons for the inaction of the police in acting against criminals and land, sand and construction mafia.”

Comments

TRENDING

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Across the board, among Muslims, Hindus, there's enormous fury at Delhi Police: Report

Counterview Desk
A quick report, prepared by Delhi's concerned citizens, "Let Us Heal Our Dilli", based on one-day visit (February 27) to several areas and mohallas of North East Delhi affected by the riots that gripped the country's capital -- Bhajanpura, Chand Bagh, Gokulpuri, Chaman Park, Shiv Vihar, Main Mustafabad (including Bhagirathi Vihar and Brijpuri) -- has said everywhere there is "zero trust" towards that the police.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Haridwar Swamis lead Khudai Khidmatgar peace march in Delhi 'riot affected' areas

By Our Representative
A Khudai Kidmatgar team, which visited the riot-affected regions along with Swami Shivanand Saraswati and Swami Punyanand, has insisted that India's true heritage is the lesson of ‘vasudhaiv kutumbakam', and it is the responsibility of all to carry froward this legacy. Originally founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1930, also known as Frontier Gandhi, Khudai Khidmatgar is claimed to have been revived by young Gandhian activist Faisal Khan in 2011.