Transparency activists led by former Chief Justice of India R.C. Lahoti, former Chief Election Commissioner, J.M. Lyngdoh and former Comptroller and Auditor General V. K. Shunglu have termed the proposed law to protect whistleblowers as a “formality.”
The draft Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Informers Bill, 2009 is listed for Cabinet is likely to be discussed at Cabinet’s meeting on Friday.
The leaders, who have formed India Rejuvenation Initiative (IRI), have received support from RTI activists, who have brought the loopholes in the proposed law to the notice of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who also heads the National Advisory Council. “We will ask the government to allow the bill to be examined by NAC before the government decides on the bill,” a NAC member said.
A representation from RTI activists against the law has been sent to Gandhi. “Even though the bill concerns whistleblowers like us we have not been consulted despite government’s assurance,” a RTI activist said.
The IRI has objected to the name of the bill titled, The Public Interest Disclosure (Protection of Informers) Bill, 2009.
“It should be renamed as ‘The Public Interest Disclosure (Protection of Whistle-blowers) Bill. In the Indian context, the ‘informer’ has a certain connotation related with the functioning of police thanas and that is not very flattering,” it said.
“Quite often informers are paid by the police officers and there is very little protection, if any, for them and quite often they become hapless victims of mafia/criminals,” the IRI said.
The IRI has also objected to a section of the proposed bill, which states that no disclosure submitted after 12 months of it being known to the complainant will be probed. Another condition says no complaint will be probed after five years having lapsed from the date of alleged act having been committed.
“The periods... may be used by the bureaucracy to scuttle probe on technical grounds.”