The National Campaign for Peoples Right to Information,the organisation that played pivotal role in the movement for the RTI Act,Friday demanded speedy passage of the Whistleblowers Protection Bill 2011.
Speaking about the need to broaden the definition of victimisation,National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy,who helped establish the NCPRI,said: Any case where the government prevents an employee from stating their views and he is transferred,I would categorise this as victimisation. Though government may have said that transfers are as per service rules,my seven-year experience of a government job has acquainted me with the various ways that officers voices are silenced.
Roy was answering a question about CBI officer Ravikant,who was allegedly forced to tone down his report on the coal block allocation scam and subsequently transferred.
This came at a public hearing on the RTI Act organised by the NCPRI also attended by Minorities Commission Chairman Wajahat Habibullah,lawyer Vrinda Grover,IAS officer Ashok Khemka and NCPRI functionaries Nikhil De and Anjali Bharadwaj. Village level RTI activists from across the country narrated their experiences as did friends and family members of activists who had been murdered.
Stressing the importance of compensation for families of whistleblowers who get killed,Habibullah spoke about the importance of giving security to those under threat as against giving police escort to state guests who have no apparent threat,using his own visits across the country as an example. Speakers also mentioned the deliberate fuzziness on mandatory disclosure of information under Section 4 of the RTI Act.
Among other changes in the whistleblowers Bill listed in the final resolution adopted during the hearing were making information which has apparently caused its seeker to be attacked automatically public,special audit of NREGA should the information pertain to the job scheme and fasttracking appeals where there is a perceived threat to life and liberty.