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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Shielding whistle blowers: Punjab gives teeth to panel

The Punjab government has decided to include representatives of Home Department,Advocate General’s office and some social activists,including women,as members of the security review committee for grant of protection to whistle blowers.

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published: April 28, 2012 3:31:25 am

The Punjab government has decided to include representatives of Home Department,Advocate General’s office and some social activists,including women,as members of the security review committee for grant of protection to whistle blowers. The committee would be headed by the Additional Director General of Police (ADGP),Security.

The state submitted this in the Punjab and Haryana High Court through an affidavit filed by Surinder Pal Singh,SSP Security during the resumed hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by RTI activist and lawyer H C Arora.

Meanwhile,Haryana government drew flak from the court for not taking same steps as Punjab.

Earlier,while hearing the arguments in the case on December 8,2011,the High Court had directed the two states to consider including the representatives of AG office and social activists in the panel that assesses the threat perception to the whistle blowers.

Submitting its reply,the Haryana law officer produced an affidavit by ADGP (Law and Order) B S Sandhu. Referring to the earlier order of HC,the ADGP ,in a letter addressed to the Principal Secretary,Home Department,stated that “the policy has already been finalised by the government after detailed deliberations. The purpose of inclusion of district attorney/accountant general in the committee is not clear. We may have faith in the police machinery particularly when the responsibility of providing security to all other classes of persons is vested in the police officers. At the same time inclusion of NGOs is not needed.”

Taking a serious note of the ADGP’s comments,the division bench observed that the “court had expressed its provisional view that the forums which have to consider the requests for granting protection to RTI Activists should be broad based.”

“In other words,confining the entire machinery for protection in the hands of the police officers was not conducive. The ADGP has made observations,which are not in consonance with the suggestions given by this court,” the Bench said.

It also came down on Haryana government for letting the ADGP file the affidavit. “It was required to be filed through Chief Secretary. We,therefore,direct the Chief Secretary to file his affidavit within two weeks,” the bench said,adding that the ADGP’s affidavit “does not deserve to be taken on record.”

Earlier,on being pointed out by the petitioner that the respondents have not stated any thing in their respective affidavits about formation of district level committees,in terms of order dated December 8,2011,by including district attorneys,social activists and women in such committees,the Bench directed Punjab and Haryana to frame guidelines for setting up such committees at district and lower levels also.

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