The Union Cabinet has cleared a bill to protect whistleblowers and punish those exposing identity of people disclosing information. The proposed legislation, Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making The Disclosure Bill, 2010, provides the Central Vigilance Commission powers of a civil court to hand down harsh penalty to people revealing identity of whistleblowers. The CVC will be empowered to take action against those who reveal the identity of whistleblowers or those who threaten the whistleblowers while those who make frivolous complaints will also be liable to punishment. The killing of whistleblowers Manjunath Shanmugam and Satyendra Dubey and many Right to Information activists by anti-socials and vested interests has prompted the government to draft the Bill.
Several activists who exposed corruption by bureaucrats and political leaders have been killed or threatened by mafia elements, it was pointed out. * Dubey, an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur alumnus, was killed in Bihar for exposing corruption by contractors in building the national highways. * Shanmugam, originally from Andhra Pradesh, and an officer in the Indian Oil Corporation(IOC), was killed after he exposed adulteration in petrol pumps in Uttar Pradesh. He was an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Lucknow. *
There has been a rise in the number of attacks on RTI activists across the country recently. * Activist Amit Jethwa was shot outside the high court in Ahmedabad last month. Jethwa had named BJP's Junagadh MP Dinu Solanki while exposing illegal mining in the Gir forest area in Gujarat. * In Maharashtra, RTI activist Datta Patil was found dead in Ichalkaranji in May. He had exposed a corruption racket which had resulted in removal of a police official and disciplinary action against Ichalkaranji corporation officials. * Satish Shetty, a whistleblower who exposed land scandals, was killed on Pune city outskirts in January. In a similar case, Vitthal Gite, an activist of Aurangabad was killed in April. Gite had blown the lid off irregularities in a village school in Beed district. * In Bihar, Shashidhar Mishra was killed by unknown attackers in Begusarai in February. His murder came soon after he exposed corrupt deals at the panchayat and block levels. Several incidents of attacks on RTI activists have been reported from Delhi and other states, officials said. UPA leaders are hoping that the new bill will act as a deterrent to the vested interests against rights activists.
The Whistleblowers Protection bill has been passed by the Union Cabinet on August 9, 2010. The bill is officially known as the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosure Bill, 2010. The proposed Indian law intends to protect the whistleblowers, facilitate the disclosure of information and uncover corruption and deceptive practices that exist in government organizations. Indian Law: Key Features of the Whistleblowers Protection Bill * It will protect the whistleblowers from any discrimination or victimization in their workplace. * It provides for concealing the identity of a citizen who discloses information about the misuse of power and money. Those who reveal the identity of the whistleblower will be held liable and penalized, by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). * The offenders will be liable for imprisonment up to 3 years and a fine up to Rs.50, 000. * There will be penalization in case of delays in response, under the Right to Information Act. A fine of Rs.250 will be imposed for every day of delay beyond the set deadline. * There will be penalization for officials who try to mislead the CVC. * The bill provides for addressing complaints against public sector employees and employees of the Central and the State Government. * The bill also ensures the honest government officials are not harassed in anyway but...