NGO refuses to disclose whistleblower's identity

NGO refuses to disclose whistleblower's identity

The Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), an NGO seeking rec­u­sal of CBI chief Ranjit Sinha from the 2G scam probe, on Thursday told the Supreme Court that it was not in a posit­i­on to reveal the whistleblower’s identity in view of “great risk” to the life of the informant.

The Supreme Court had directed NGO’s counsel Prashanth Bhushan to reveal the identity of the whistleblower in a sealed envelope.

Any disclosure would set a bad precedent and deter sources in other cases, the NGO, which filed a petition leading to cancellation of 122 2G licences in 2011, said.
In the past, the court did not insist on sources of information in cases like the Jain-Hawala diaries and corporate lobbyist Niira Radia tapes case. On September 15, the apex court found the application filed by Bhushan not in conformity with the Supreme Court rules. 

The apex court asked Bhushan to name the sources who provided him information relating to copy of visitors’ diary of Sinha’s residence and file notings which shows the investigating agency’s chief colluding with the accused.

The NGO’s refusal to disclose the name of the whistleblower has added a new twist to the controversy. The apex court is now left with the issue of determining the maintainability of the application filed on September 2 before going into the merits of the charges.

Sinha had earlier questioned the bona fide of the sources. CPIL members, senior advocates Anil Divan, Colin Gonsalves, Shanti Bhushan, Prashanth Bhushan, Kamal Jaswal (former Union secret­ary) and Kamini Jaiswal, passed a resolution at a meeting on Wednesday against revealing the identity of the source.

“Several informants and activists have lost their lives for complaining against corruption. People like Satyendra Dube, S Manjunath, Amit Jethwa and Shehla Masood were murdered for exposing corruption after their identity became public. Several others and their families had to face harassment of all kinds.

Therefore, the CPIL cannot tell its counsel to disclose the source and thus expose the source to great risk, especially considering the seriousness of the issue and the entities involved,” it said.

The CPIL said it continuously received important information and documents from a large number of sources who wished to keep their identity secret.  “The role of the court is to ascertain the truth and to devise remedies for doing justice and upholding public interest. A strict application of the forms of proceedings and rules regarding verification, as may be applicable to individual grievances, have been found to be quite inappropriate for consideration of issues in public interest,” it said.

The court has, therefore, often entertained even letters as PILs, news reports as evidence and taken up several cases suo moto. The court has often appointed inquiry commissioners, amicus curiae, fact-finding committee to assist it in various important PILs, it added.

“Revealing the identity of the source would therefore set a bad precedent and would make several PILs impossible to conduct, which would not be in public interest or in the interest of justice, and would set the clock back on 30 years of jurisprudence,” the NGO stated.

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