Cabinet clears Whistleblowers protection Bill

The 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 the identity of whistleblowers. According to the bill, the onus will be on the CVC to protect the identity of the citizens who provide information about the misuse of government authority and funds.

The CVC will be empowered to take action against those who reveal the identity of whistleblowers or those who threaten them while those who make frivolous complaints will also be liable to punishment. The bill, which has provisions to prevent victimisation or disciplinary action against whistleblowers will cover, Central, state and public sector employees.

The bill is expected to encourage disclosure of information in public interest and people who expose corruption in government. It includes clauses which provide for fines and penalties against people who punish those exposing corruption.

 The Cabinet decision comes in the backdrop of the recent killing of RTI activists in Gujarat and Maharashtra. The call for action in protecting whistleblowers began after the killing of Manjunath Shanmugam and Satyendra Dubey and many RTI activists by anti-socials and vested interests. Several activists who exposed political and bureaucratic corruption have been killed or threatened by the mafia in the recent past. Dubey was killed in Bihar for exposing corruption among contractors engaged in constructing national highways.

Shanmugam, who hailed from Kolar, and was working in Uttar Pradesh as an officer in Indian Oil Corporation, was killed after he exposed petrol adulteration at fuel stations.
In the latest incident, activist Amit Jethwa was shot outside the Gujarat High Court premises in Ahmedabad last month. Jethwa had named a BJP leader 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 resulted in the removal of a police officer and disciplinary action against Ichalkaranji Corporation officials. 

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