Skip to main content

Letter to Modi: 18 whistleblowers killed, as govt refuses to implement Act to protect them

Counterview Desk
The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI), in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding non-implementation of the Whistle Blowers Protection (WBP) Act, passed 5 years ago, on February 21, 2014, has said that government indifference stands in sharp contrast to scores of whistleblowers being threatened, attacked and even killed.
Signed by senior Right to Information (RTI) activists Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog, and Pradip Pradhan, the letter regrets, Government of India, instead of operationalizing the Act, wants to dilute it. Thus, among other provisions, it proposes removal of the clause which safeguards whistleblowers from prosecution under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for disclosing information as part of their complaint.

Text of the letter:

The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI) is deeply anguished by the failure of the Government of India to operationalise the Whistle Blowers Protection Act (WBP Act), which was passed by Parliament five years ago on February 21, 2014.
The WBP Act provides a statutory framework for concealing the identity of whistleblowers and protecting them against victimization. It establishes a mechanism to receive, and inquire into, complaints against public servants relating to: offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988; wilful misuse of power or discretion; or attempt to commit or commission of a criminal offence.
The demand for a statutory mechanism to protect whistleblowers started in 2003, with the murder of Satyendra Dubey, who blew the whistle on corruption in the National Highways Authority of India. The WBP Act was finally passed on the last day of the winter session of the Rajya Sabha in 2014, after a 20 day long dharna outside offices of political parties and the Parliament by whistleblowers, their families and citizens, including RTI users.
In order to operationalise the law, the government was required to frame rules and notify the date of the Act coming into force. The failure of the government to operationalise and implement the law has undermined the will of Parliament to provide statutory protection to whistleblowers. In the last 5 years, scores of people have been killed and many more attacked and victimised for coming forward to report on corruption and wrongdoing.
These people could have been afforded protection had the government implemented the law. In 2018 alone, 18 people were killed for blowing the whistle on corruption on the basis of information accessed under the RTI Act.
Instead of operationalising the WBP Act, an amendment bill was introduced in Parliament in 2015 to dilute several key provisions of the law. The amendment bill was brought to the Lok Sabha without any public debate or consultation on its contents. The text of the amendment bill was made public only when it was introduced in Lok Sabha, where the bill was passed hurriedly, despite demands from several Members of Parliament to have it referred to a deliberative committee.
In the Rajya Sabha, several MPs moved a proposal to have the bill referred to a select committee, however, this demand was also ignored. The amendment bill, among other provisions, proposes removal of the clause which safeguards whistleblowers from prosecution under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for disclosing information as part of their complaint.
Offences under the OSA are punishable by imprisonment of up to 14 years. Threat of such stringent action would deter even bonafide whistleblowers and defeat the very purpose of the law, which is to encourage people to come forward and report wrongdoing.
The government has repeatedly cited the pendency of the proposed amendments as the reason for non-implementation of the WBP Act. Proposed amendments to a law cannot be a justification for not implementing it. In any case, if it was felt that certain amendments were required, a proper consultative process could have been adopted within and outside Parliament to address concerns of citizens and MPs regarding the contentious amendments proposed in the bill. The amendment bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha, will now lapse with the dissolution of the lower House with the upcoming general elections.
Brutal attacks on whistleblowers and RTI users in the country have highlighted the vulnerability of those who dare to show truth to power. It is the moral obligation of the state to protect these conscience keepers who, at great risk, expose corruption and wrongdoing in the system. Unless proper systems are put in place to empower whistleblowers by offering them protection, and ensuring that their complaints are effectively investigated into and acted upon, corruption will continue to thrive with impunity in society.
It is most unfortunate that the government has failed to implement the WBP Act, which is an integral part of any effective anti-corruption framework. The non-implementation of the law has significantly weakened the fight against corruption.
We urge you to immediately ensure that appropriate steps are taken to operationalise the WBP Act.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Hello! I know thjs iis kinda offf topic hoqever I'd figured I'd ask.
Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest writying a blog post or vice-versa?
My site addresses a lot of the saame subjects as yours and I feel wee could greatly benefit from
each other. If you are interested feel ree to shoot me an e-mail.
I look forward to hearing from you! Excellent blog
by the way!
Editor said…
You didn't introduce yourselves. What's your blog's name?
Sanjay Dubey said…
https://twitter.com/auldtimer/status/1065577155642445825?s=20
Sanjay Dubey said…
https://twitter.com/auldtimer/status/1065577155642445825?t=xDhes2akqnoLibeIhieS1g&s=19
Sanjay Dubey said…
Satyendra Dubey is the name. With a high voltage campaign in Indian Hecklerspress, a cottage industry was created out of his unfortunate death. Memorial trusts. Awards in his name. Seminars. The victim of a robbery gone wrong was turned into an anti-(ABV’s-)corruption symbol.

TRENDING

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

Mark Lee: A spiritual leader who thought conventional religions are barrier to liberation

  By Harsh Thakor*  The Krishnamurti Foundation of America (KFA) lost Roger Edwin Mark Lee, who was a devoted disciple of Jiddu Krishnamurti, one of the greatest and most self realised spiritual philosophers of our time. Mark passed away due to pneumonia complications on April 6, 2024, at he Ventura Community Memorial Hospital in California. His exit was an irreparable loss to the spiritual world.