Apex court asks state govts to prevent attacks on RTI activists

Calling the recent killings and attacks on RTI activists ''unfortunate'', the Supreme Court on Monday asked state governments to take action to prevent their recurrence.

A bench of Justices R M Lodha and A R Dave, however, refused to issue any guidelines for ensuring protection of transparency activists.

“The incidents of killings are tragic and unfortunate. But law and order is a state subject. It is for the state government to take action. We cannot issue guidelines,” the bench said.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by Kolkata-based activist Avishek Goenka, who sought a system to protect RTI activists, contending that 22 of them have been killed in different parts of the country.

As Goenka, arguing himself, pointed out the precarious situation of transparency seekers and whistle blowers, the court shot back, “Why whistle blowers, nobody should be killed. Don’t undermine our democracy. Our country is very strong. Don’t make such a weak statement. And, rather, efforts should be made to strengthen the system.” The petition also sought progressive measures like accepting RTI application and payment of fee electronically without the need for applicants to divulge their  identity. However, the court told Goenka, “E-mail sounds like a good idea but there must be enough safeguards to ensure it actually works to the benefit of applicants. Any technological move has to be made fool-proof. You should conduct some more research and see if this can be made workable.”
Goenka agreed to withdraw his petition.

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