Close on the heels of murders of eight Right to Information (RTI) activists in first seven months of the year, a shocking case of a whistle-blower being hounded out by the Kandla Port Trust (KPT) and Shipping Ministry has come to light.
Manoranjan Kumar, a former deputy chairman of the KPT, is without a job since 2007, after he exposed a multi-crore scam allegedly involving 12,000 acres of land at one of the country's largest ports located in the Gulf of Kutch at Gandhidham, Gujarat.
The Shipping Ministry, which controls the port, refused to accept the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) order directing it to allow Kumar to complete his tenure as the KPT deputy chief. It challenged the order in Delhi High Court.
"The applicant (Kumar), in our view is on a solid wicket to state that he is a whistle-blower. He brought to the notice of the authorities irregularities going on in the port for several years," the CAT had stated in its February-2009 order.
The CAT, in its 58-page order, said, "If the system may not protect the applicant, the court must come to his rescue, otherwise no whistle-blower would ever dare to expose corruption."
The CBI has launched a probe into the matter.
"KPT's former chief vigilance officer Manoranjan Kumar's complaint to the Central Vigilance Commission as the basis, the CBI has registered a preliminary probe into the alleged land scam," CBI informed the Delhi HC on July 14.
All these developments, however, have failed to move the KPT and the Shipping Ministry.
Kumar, a 1986-batch Indian Economic Service officer, was sent on a five-year deputation from the Textiles Ministry to the KPT.
Shortly after he was given the additional charge of the Chief Vigilance Officer.
In July 2007, the Shipping Ministry wanted a probe into the allegations of the port land having been illegally leased out.
In his report, Kumar provided details of port land being illegally occupied without payment of lease to the KPT.
This report was not to the liking of the ministry officials, who ordered Kumar to be relieved of his duties and sent back to the Textiles Ministry.
He refused and decided to fight.
He continues to do so, but is without a job, awaiting the court verdict.