The state government has assured the Bombay High Court that it is keen on providing protection to genuine activists fighting social issues.
Chandra Iyengar, additional chief secretary, filed an affidavit on Wednesday stating that the state will set up a committee to lay down guidelines as to who should be treated as a social activist (individual or group) to provide protection. This is to ensure that an undeserving person or group does not compel authorities to extend protection.
Advocate general Ravi Kadam informed the court that one of the guideline was that immediate interim protection, maybe within 72 hours, should be provided to activist who seeks protection and then undertake assessment of threat perception.
“Number of hours is yet to be decided. Interim protection cannot be given indefinitely or it can be abused,” said Kadam. If it is found that an activist was threatened with a view to stop his/her activists, then he/she won’t have to pay for the security.
The state is also contemplating setting up another group in the Home department to study trends of threats, and measures will be taken to see that activists are effectively protected, added the affidavit.
Within 90 days, the state will examine and finalise interim measures for governing disclosure, maintaining confidentiality and enforcement and follow up on receipt of complaints.
The affidavit stated that the state is not aware whether the Centre has passed the bill on Whistle Blowers’ Protection Act. But they will forward this bill to the Law and Judiciary Depart-ment to examine that it (state government) can pass such an Act with requisite modifications.
As far as cases concerning attacks on activists are concerned, they will be thoroughly investigated expeditiously.
“A database of high-risk individual and collective association will be prepared to enable the police to identify and protect those facing threats and attacks,” added the affidavit.
Satish Shetty (39) was murdered by unknown assailants on January 13 at Talegaon, in Pune, while he was on a morning walk.
On January 8, Nayana Kathpalia, co-convenor of NGO CitiSpace, was attacked by unknown people early morning at her Churchgate home.
Following these incidents, the high court had taken suo moto cognisance of the issue of attacks on activists and called for an investigation report.