A civil society group on Friday demanded key changes in the bill to protect whistleblowers, including widening its scope to bring all categories of public servants and private sector employees under its purview.
The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, after
day-long consultations with the families of some of the whistleblowers, asked the government to make the definition of victimisation clear in the bill.
The Whistleblowers Protection Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in December 2011 and is pending before the Rajya Sabha. The bill listed for introduction on Monday aims to provide protection to whistleblowers, both in the government and private sector.
A few case studies show why the ambit of the law should be widened.
Ashok Khemka, an IAS officer, has been transferred over 40 times during his service for exposing corruption. Even though he does not describe himself as a whistleblower, Khemka said the transfers were a routine affair.
A doctorate in computer science from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Mumbai and alumni of IIT-Kharagpur, Khemka said the best way to fight corruption was by remaining in the system.
In March, Ram Thakur and his nephew were returning on a bicycle from a court in Bihar when a group of six motorcycle-borne persons surrounded them and shot Thakur on the orders of the son of village pradhan Rajesh Kumar Sahani.
Thakur had used the Right to Information Act (RTI) to expose corruption in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme by the village pradhan.
Anti-graft crusader Nandi Singh, hailing from Assam, was killed in an attack in September 2012. He had exposed corruption in the Public Distribution System (PDS) through the RTI.
His wife Saorthi Singh, who also sustained injuries in the attack, recalled how the family was troubled for seeking information on the PDS. Of the eight accused, only four were arrested and later released on bail.
In 2011, Mahabir Prasad filed an RTI to know why he and others were not receiving old age pension. This earned him the wrath of the village council head Dharampal Malik. A brawl ensued in which his daughter-in-law died.
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