Right To Information And Protection Of Whistle Blower
This Blog is written by Vanshika Rana from Symbiosis Law School, Noida. Edited by Maulika Awasthi.
Any wrongdoing whether it’s a fraud or corruption acts as cancer at the heart which further leads to many problems in the world. It decimates jobs and keeps down development, costing the world economy billions of dollars each year. It traps the least fortunate in the edgiest destitution as corrupt governments around the globe redirect reserves and forestall persevering individuals from getting the incomes and advantages of development that are legitimately theirs. The fundamental assets of the nation are squashed away as discrepancies exist in every sector.
Then there comes a person who is against all this and wants to rectify the defect in the moral fabric who are better known as a whistleblower bear all the threats to themselves, their families, properties and plan to reveal the fraud with absolute integrity. By exposing, they make people cautious of the organization’s insider scams but instead of being rewarded, they are punished in a way as they may lose their jobs, put their lives in danger, and a lot more. To empower them, there is a need for strict laws that will shield them from the danger of their life, their loved ones, and their properties.
WHO IS A WHISTLEBLOWER?
A whistleblower is a person who may be an employee of a corporation, or a government department, revealing knowledge regarding some misconduct to the public or any higher authority, which may be in the case of fraud, corruption, etc. These informants can be of two types either internal or external. The internal informants are the ones who report the offense, fraud, or indiscipline to senior officials of the association while external informants are those who report such matters to the individuals are not a part of the association like media, higher government authorities, etc. To shield informants from losing their employment or getting abused there are explicit laws. Most organizations have a separate policy that unmistakably states how to report such an occurrence. Such an informant can file a lawsuit or lodge a complaint with higher authorities who will trigger a criminal assessment against the association or any individual division.
RTI AND THE WHISTLEBLOWERS
The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) is a central legislation which sets out the specific system of right to information for citizens. The Right to Information Act is as per Article 19 of the Constitution of India, which empowers Indians to practice their fundamental right to speech and expression. It stands for transparency, which would lead to openness, accountability, and integrity. Besides, apart from ensuring greater transparency it also acts as a deterrent against the arbitrary exercise of public powers. This renders public authorities responded to the general population, thereby promoting participatory democracy. Nowadays whistleblowers are willing to bring to light the government’s corrupt practices, using RTI as a device. Many of these whistleblowers are RTI activists whose mission is to add accountability to the government. It is seen as a redressal instrument for the individuals. These activists, then again, have confronted the brunt of the lack of protection with the increase in the no. of RTI Activist’ passing expanding multi-crease in the ongoing decade. People have been confronting a few issues while they look for information. A significant factor for the issues they face is that in spite of the fact that the RTI is open to many, there is an absence of anonymity for the informants. Several times they’re interrupted or even intimidated by people because the details they’re asking for can bring embarrassment to the government authorities they’re inquiring about. This can also cause such extreme killing of information seekers.
IS IT A CRIME TO SEEK INFORMATION?
There is no official system that evaluates the no. of people who have been undermined and intimidated for seeking information in India through RTI. RTI related deaths, assaults, and harassment have been increasing which not only undermines the very purpose of the RTI Act but also costs the lives of people who are fair and not corrupt. What is the mistake of those people that they are innocent or they are not corrupt and want the system to run in a fair manner without any discrepancies? Is it a crime? In my opinion, it isn’t. The RTI users are punished in such a way that it can cost their lives too which can be seen from various instances. Not only this they even face suspension from their jobs, having registered false criminal and defamation cases registered against oneself and a lot more than this. Victims of RTI-based reprisals pursued information related to wrongdoing in four major categories: land and natural resources, infrastructure and social services, administrative and procedural matters, and delivery of public services. Roughly 33% of the responses included land and common assets, for example, endeavors to uncover corruption in the unlawful offer of land for mining and in illicit development and land tricks. Another included endeavors to uncover corruption in actualizing improvement and government assistance programs, for example, non-installment of least wages under the national option to work program (MGNREGA), misappropriation of open assets implied for annuities to country poor, and preoccupation of sponsored food grains implied for helpless families. Countless responses likewise identified with irregularities in bureaucratic or regulatory issues, for example, arrangement and advancement, abuse of open office, open uses for movement costs of chose authorities, business agreements, and open pay rates. RTI in India is generally used to propel social equity and human rights, including uncovering corruption. This challenges influential people and establishments, who are regularly ready to correct responses without risk of punishment. In like manner, RTI clients are another sort of informant needing assurance.
These Whistle-blowers, who look for data through the RTI need to give their identity to get the information. A typical pattern between the RTI whistleblowers is that they’re generally government employees that are attempting to battle the degenerate administration in our nation. When they notice any error in the policy implementation circle, they bring it out to the notification of the general population through the media sources or web-based life to bring issues to light. This is the place the difficulty lies, as the whistleblowers who’ve uncovered the legislature haven’t put the security of our nation in danger however rather it’s their lives. Because of the idea of the RTI, it’s simple for the ones that have been blamed here to follow the activists. When this occurs, they get threats and their families and lives are at steady risks of being harmed because of the impact of the authorities.
Laws governing whistleblowing and whistleblower rights are insufficient in India. The Companies Act, 2013, however, lays down provisions for whistleblowing and corporate governance in India and the elimination of fraud through the establishment of appropriate vigilance mechanisms. Sections 206 to 229 of the Companies Act, 2013 introduce provisions relating to inspection, review, and prosecution.
The Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015 which supplanted the Government Resolution, 2004 has not come into power yet. The bill intends to adjust the need to shield genuine authorities from unjustifiable provocation by ensuring people making an open intrigue revelation. The bill has gone under substantial analysis from RTI activists and hostile to defilement crusaders. They state that the bill has made the enormous region of exemptions and because of this, the state specialists would be far from informants. They additionally guarantee that the proposed revisions were drafted with no sort of open meeting and cooperation. It is additionally said that if the revisions to Whistleblowers Act, 2011 postponed in the Parliament is passed, there might be nobody left to ensure. The goal of the bill is that informants ought not to be permitted to uncover any records grouped under the Official Secrets Act of 1923, regardless of whether the intention is to reveal demonstrations of corruption, abuse of intensity, or crimes. Further, it additionally puts a bar on the exposure of any data that could preferentially influence the sovereignty and integrity of India, well-disposed relations with remote states. Thus, the bill places bars on the action of whistleblowing so that solitary some data acquired through RTI and so forth has been kept in its ambit. The bill says that the informants would be qualified for authentic insurance just if these conditions are met; and they could confront activity in the event that they are definitely not.
PURPOSE OF THE RTI ACT DIFFERS FROM THE WHISTLEBLOWERS ACT:-
The 2015 Bill ‘s Statement of Objects and Reasons states that the forbidden categories were modeled on the 10 information types that cannot be published under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005. This analogy may not be acceptable though. The aim of the RTI Act is to make public records accessible to all people with a view to fostering openness and accountability. Conversely, the Whistleblowers Act accommodates corruption-related data to be given by a person to a Competent Authority. The Competent Authority, in all cases, is an elevated level of Constitutional or legal power. This data isn’t made open and the investigation into the claim is required to be circumspect, with the character of the complainant, local official, and related archives being left well enough alone.
He was an engineering a highway project of NHAI. He wrote about the corrupt practices going on to the PMO office but indirectly it was delivered to NHAI itself which fell under the appointee top of the same venture. He was pressurized about the charges he made and at last, was shot dead.
He was receiving threatening calls after he filed a complaint against District Education Officer about the schools in the area were operating without licenses which led to a series of questions against several rich owners of the schools which led to finding him dead on NH8 of Gujarat.
He was a first-year college student whose dead body was found on the railway tracks in Karnataka. He was the one who brought out the issue of corruption in implementing some government schemes in his village as he filed RTI for the same and told a local news channel about the same after that he was killed by a local gang member who was a member of the panchayat itself.
It is extremely certain that corruption, frauds, abuse of influence, and prudence is the focal point of the government strategy to practice their influence, unjustifiably improve themselves to the detriment of citizens money and the certainty with which individuals had chosen them as their delegates. The government would prefer not to expose themselves and their companies to any request, examination against revelation rather it goes about as a definitive body to screen skilled position and directable power in the event that it ought to research into divulgence or not. With expanding economic offenses in India it has got critical to urge inside informants to approach and make exposures. RTI act is a device for acquiring data that concerns open intrigue through whistleblower act is an instrument for individuals to make exposure of any corruption, misrepresentation, and so forth, the investigation into which will be finished by skilled power. RTI act is for individuals’ entitlement to get to data while the whistleblower act is to empower remain against corruption. Thus, for this reason, if an informant is making such a revelation be it of national, sovereign significance it must be inquired for not leading any inquiry will choose not to see acts which can be deadly to national interests. The Whistleblower Protection Act needs to determine a sober-minded component through which an informant can address his issues with the current framework. Simultaneously, the component ought not to dismiss the data gave by the whistleblower because of political interests or impact. A significant expansion to the RTI Act will recognize whistleblowers that report the disparities of the Public Administration only and offer them fundamental help. Security of their secrecy and giving them Whistle-blower Protection Services that depend on the Witness Protection Model of the United States would be critical to improving the Act. Simultaneously, it is important to expand the consciousness of these informants in the Judicial Sphere. Already, when the RTI Whistleblower had lost his life and his direction tried to cure through the RTI and the Whistleblowing Protection Act, the court rather chose to apply the Indian Penal code and the Code of Criminal Procedure. It has to be understood that these informants don’t fall under the lines of traditional homicide or ambush as the dangers they face are regularly traditionalist to an obligation that they will undoubtedly do. This is basically where the legitimate framework flops too as it won’t think about the foundation of the case and frequently manages in the kindness of the blamed because of conditional proof or distance of cause.
 Section 8 (1), Right to Information Act, 2005.
 Long Title, Right to Information Act, 2005.