The Maharashtra government was, on Monday, criticised by the Bombay high court for failing to ensure protection for whistle-blowers and social activists, despite clear orders passed in May 2010 on the issue.
“It is high time the state government took immediate, appropriate and effective steps to ensure the safety of whistle-blowers and social activists,” said the division bench of acting Chief Justice DD Sinha and justice KK Tated. It was hearing a suo-motu proceeding taken up after Satish Shetty, an RTI activist from Pune, was killed in January 2010.
Angered that there were no guidelines in place to decide pleas of public spirited (whistle-blowers, social activists) persons seeking police protection and no outer limit set for deciding such pleas, the bench also directed that interim protection be provided to such persons immediately on receipt of applications from them fearing threat to their lives and property.
Amicus curiae (friend of the court) Dinyar Madon pointed out that the police had not identified public-spirited persons within their jurisdictions, despite specific court orders.
Additional government pleader Nitin Deshpande, responded to the contention stating 121 meetings of the special committees had been held after February 2011 and 16 public spirited persons had so far been given police protection.
The issue of safety of public-spirited persons was raked up in the case as it later revealed Shetty had filed an application seeking police protection. But, he was killed before Pune rural police could decide on his plea.
Thirty-eight-year-old Shetty, who was actively involved in anti-corruption drive was stabbed to death by unknown assailants on January 13, 2010 near his residence at Talegaon Dabhade.