Social auditing needed to protect whistleblowers, not new bodies, says Wajahat Habibullah
Danish Raza | July 27, 2010
Central Information Commission chief Wajahat Habibullah believes that the formulation of a new commission or body is not needed to protect the RTI activists across the country from attacks. “Social audits can be of great help (in preventing the whistleblowers from getting attacked) . They bring everything out in the open. We do not need any new commission because they already so many judicial and quasi- judicial bodies,” he said.
“We should also realise that in recent years, RTI has become a powerfull tool. So much so, that people involved in corruption are scared now. That us why we are witnessing these attacks and kilings,” he added.
Habibullah was adressing a rally in the capital on Monday conducted by civil society groups to condemn the threats faced by RTI activists across the country.
Non-goverment organisations and individuals working for the RTI act across the country rallied from Gandhi Peace Foundation (near ITO) to Rajghat.
“The concept of Lokayukta (ombudsmen) is absent in Delhi and many other states. We should have a Lokayukta or an independent body at central as well as state level to investigate all the corruption cases. Also, whenever there is a threat to any activist, all of us should file hundred more RTI application on the issue raised by that activist. That is the only way to prevent the person,” said Arvind Kejriwal, RTI activist.
Pushpa, a resident of Bhalaswa resttlement colony in West Delhi told the gathering how she has been facing threats to her life because she exposed a scam in the Public Distribution System. “They follow me almost every time I go to a ration shop. I went to the police station in my area to lodge a complaint. But they didn’t take it seriously,” said she.
Eight RTI activists have been killed this year alone, with Gujarat based Amit Jethwa being the latest victim. Jethwa was shot last week outside the Ahmedabad High Court. He was working to expose illegal mining in Gir forest and the adjoining area in Gujarat.
Activists have been pushing for the passage of the Whistleblower Act. Under the Act, if a government employee discovers any irregularity in his office, he can file a corruption case in the central vigilance commission. The commission will investigate the case without divulging the details of the complainant.
However, there is no rule or Act to prevent an individual (who is not a government employee) who expose corruption.
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