Thursday, January 7, 2016

Whistle Blower Protection Act

The Supreme Court of India has sought response from Government of India to protect Whistle Blowers . Court has asked when Whistle Blower Act  will come into force and said the delay was causing a vacuum .

It is true that whoever in our country act as whistle blower against ongoing corruption in any office or department is taken to task by corrupt top officials and corrupt politicians who rule this country . Many of them are either killed or posted at remote place. This is why honest officers in general think it wise to remain silent spectator on all evil acts committed by corrupt officials and corrupt politicians. 

No power can stop culture of corruption, culture of flattery and bribery and culture of recommendation from VIP prevalent in all government offices. Many officials have been killed by victim of honesty or transferred to critical places by corrupt top officials sitting at higher levels. As a matter of fact it is only one out of one thousand honest workers who shows the courage to report the matter to higher bosses. It is easy to make laws to protect whistle blowers , but it is not that much easy to ensure that the law is truly and honestly put in action.

When ninety persons out of 100 persons are corrupt, it is easy to sideline and isolate residual 10 persons even if the Whistle Blower Protection law is enforced and even if stringent punishment is provided in the law for those who torture a whistle blower. But the question is who will decide that whistle blower is tortured, because management  or the government may torture by transfer or even by promoting the whistle blower.

There is a gang of corrupt officers who do not allow good officers to lead in any matter or to move up in his personal service career. There is always a strong bonding and unity among evil doers , but there is seldom unity among honest and devoted performers. When Askhok Khemka , senior IAS Officer was transferred by the then Haryana Government on Vadhra land scam issue, entire Congress Party stood united as Rock to safeguard CM of Haryana despite all hue and cry by Team Anna followers. It was a case of open and transparent submission of evil deeds of corrupt ministers of the then government by Mr. Ashok Khemka. We cannot dream of better treatment for whistle Blower who gives information secretly with fear of various devious consequences in mind

System of Interview for promoting an worker to higher level is the tool which is used by a corrupt boss to penalise a honest officer by denying him promotion and by awarding a junior and incompetent officer with promotion . Frequent transfers are meted out to good officer to disturb him mentally and to disturb his family so that he also succumb to corrupt culture or become dormant. How can whistle Blower Protection Act stop this bad culture is a million dollar question which Supreme Court cannot answer.

Therefore it is not a matter of only protecting to those who blows the whistle ,but to all who want to work honestly and as per rules . It is more important to create an atmosphere in all offices that good officers do not fear bosses in disobedience of illegal and improper instructions of higher bosses. It is important to ensure that good workers work without any fear in mind. It is more important that all workers work without fear of transfer and without fear of rejection in promotional processes. If officers who occupy top post are honest and sincere, he will undoubtedly promote honest culture only. Tragedy is that bad workers in present system remain fearless whereas good workers are always worried of action.

Bitter truth of present system is that anyone who has backing of VIP or who can afford paying bribe can get easy recruitment, quicker promotion  and choice transfer . Similarly any business man who can pay bribe to concerned babus and officials can get his bills passed even if work done by him is inferior or below the quality or in less quantity  . Role of bribe is prominent not only in banks, police departments, CBI or in executive body but also in  judiciary at various levels. 

Rating agencies , Auditors, Inspectors, police officers, Vigilance officials, CBI officials, Officials of Anti-corruption bureau , Chartered Accountants , Valuers, Legal Officers , consultants , all become fast and active only by power  of bribe , flattery and pressure from higher level VIPs. Reports prepared by these important persons depends less on quality or merit but more on quantum and quality of bribe and gifts they get in lieu of preparing a report better than possible genuine and true report.

Root cause of all corruption is that our judiciary is not only sick of bribery but also weak due to many other reasons. Courts are not provided adequate manpower with appropriate quality , skill , devotion and knowledge  needed for duty they are assigned to perform. Huge pressure of work on  heads of judges and magistrates to dispose of a case in favour of culprit also leads in reign of injustice and loss of trust on judiciary. 

 Advocates work as middlemen in various levels of judiciary. Same position is with police departments and administrative offices in various departments. The most painful part of the story of corruption is that none of honest workers have courage to fight against corruption or to report against corrupt officials to appropriate authority in fear of repercussion and adverse impact on his career. There is strong lobby of bad workers in all offices who act as deterrent for good workers.

Policy for  providing protection to whistle blower is so much weak and ineffective that instead of protecting a good officer, it usually hurts whistle blower and it exposes him . I however praise Supreme Court Judges who have asked a timeframe fro Government of India to put in action Whistle Blower Protection Act.

However I feel glad to notice that courts in India during last few years have on many occasions slapped the government and forced them to take appropriate action against corrupt officials and corrupt politicians or take appropriate law or enforce a particular law in true spirit. We have seen how Indian judiciary have taken the task of  penalising corrupt persons in 2G scam or Coal Scam or in Black Money.

It is bitter truth that in our country , legislative bodies in various states or Parliament have failed to do its duty of making law or modifying existing law in changed circumstances. Similarly administrative machinery have failed in its duty to enforce existing laws and rules or in compliance of legal provisions in true spirit either in greed of illegal money or under pressure of some higher bosses.

Judiciary has played constructive role many times despite its shortcomings, despite inadequate infrastructure and despite it having inadequate and inefficient manpower  as needed to cope with gigantic task of disposal of cases filed with various courts. This is why level of pendency in courts have reached the level of one crore .

Supreme Court seeks govt response on improving whistleblower protection-The LiveMint -7th January 2016

Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi will give the court a time-frame for plugging gaps in the administrative process

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the government to inform it about how soon it proposes to address loopholes in the administrative set-up for protection of whistleblowers.

On the next date of hearing, 13 January, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi will give the court a time-frame for plugging the gaps in the administrative process which the government laid down in a 21 April 2004 notification—the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Informer resolution.

43% of high court judges posts vacant, backlog of cases may hit 1-crore mark by year-end-Times of India
NEW DELHI: Despite the best efforts to speed up disposal of cases, pendency in the high courts may spiral to a monstrous one crore cases by the end of this year from the present 45 lakh cases as 24 HCs are functioning at present with 43% vacancies with only 599 judges as against a sanctioned strength of 1044.

The disposal of cases suffered as the process for appointment of judges came to a standstill for almost a year because of the Constitutional tug-of-war between the Legislature and Judiciary over the validity of National Judicial Appointments Commission, which was scrapped by the Supreme Court.

Read full news in following link
Link to Times of India

Following are historic judgement of Supreme Court
When the Supreme Court rose to the occasion

The Supreme Court has, with its latest set of rulings, observations and orders hauling up the government, yet again established its supremacy as the apex judicial body in India.
On July 15, responding to a public interest litigation filed by a non-governmental organisation which fights for the rights of sewage workers, an SC bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly gave the government a two-month deadline to ensure that such workers have better working conditions and protective gear.
The bench was responding to a PIL that highlighted recurrent deaths of sewage workers trapped in manholes.
The bench, in a 45-page judgement, added that it would be failing in its duty if it did not accept genuine PILs, and shot back at critics who have often grumbled about 'the unnecessary piling up of PILs in courts at a time when cases have already been pending for long years', accusing them of 'elitist behaviour'.
As the courts have been used to vindicate the rights of the wealthy and affluent, did not the sewage workers, who belong to the lowest strata of the society, have an equal right to make an honest living, asked the SC.
In the past, the court has pulled up the government on many issues, be it black money, clubbing of housewives, prostitutes and beggars in the census, or criticising the prime minister for alleged inaction in the 2G spectrum scam. While some constitutional experts welcomed the decisions, others wondered if the judiciary was overreaching itself.
We bring you a chronological summary of these SC rulings. Whether this is indeed an overdose of judicial activism is for you to decide:

'Bias against women is shockingly prevalent in the work of census'

On July 4, 2010, the SC expressed dismay at clubbing housewives with beggars, prostitutes and prisoners under the 'economically non-productive' category in the census, describing the approach of the statuary authorities as "callous" and "totally insensitive."
A bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly observed that it was indicative of a strong bias against women.
"This bias is shockingly prevalent in the work of census. In the census of 2001, it appears that those who are doing household duties such as cooking, cleaning of utensils, looking after children, fetching water, collecting firewood have been categorised as non-workers and equated with beggars, prostitutes and prisoners who, according to census, are not engaged in economically productive work," Justice Ganguly said.
"We often forget that the time spent by women in doing household work as homemakers is the time which they can devote to paid work or to their education. This lack of sensitiveness and recognition of their work mainly contributes to women's high rate of poverty and their consequential oppression in society, as well as various physical, social and psychological problems," the judges observed.

'Give food grains to the poor, not rats'

In a country where millions go with just one meal a day and one third of the population lives below the poverty line, it is criminal that the government would allow food grains to rot. The court also thought the same, and on August 12, 2010, intervened, and asked the government to distribute the grain that was getting damaged among the poor.
The court was reacting to media reports that nearly 17.8 million tones of grain was being stored under tarpaulin across the country, and was gradually rotting.
On August 31, 2010, the Supreme Court made it clear that it had ordered free distribution of foodgrains to the poor instead of allowing it to rot, and rejected Union Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar's contention that it was a suggestion which could not be implemented.
"It was not a suggestion. It is there in our order. It is part of our order. You tell the minister about it," a bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma told the government counsel Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran.
"We have to develop a culture of zero tolerance towards corruption. Unless immediate and urgent steps are taken, the ultimate effect will be on the poorest citizen who is deprived of legitimate entitlement for food grains," the bench observed.
The apex court suggested that the government can also explore its suggestion for enhancing the allocation of food grains to the states to overcome the problem of rotting grains in government godowns.


'Why not legalise corruption?'

On October 10 2010, stating that "nothing moves without money", the Supreme Court expressed concern over the growing corruption in government machinery.
"It is very unfortunate that there is no control over corruption in the country. There is rampant corruption particularly in the department of Income Tax, Sales Tax and Excise Department. Nothing moves without money," a bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and T S Thakur said.
In a sarcastic vein, the bench said "Why doesn't the government legalise corruption so that a specific amount is fixed for every case?"
"Let us say if a man wants his case to be settled, he can be asked to pay Rs 2,500. That way, every individual will know how much bribe he has to pay. There is no need for any bargaining by the official and the people will also know beforehand how much they have to pay without any worry," the bench said.
"Poor government officials, we can't blame them also because of the growing inflation," the bench said.
In another case, the bench also ticked off a senior counsel after he appeared in a cheque bounce case for an accused.
"We did not expect at least a counsel of your stature to appear for such people. Mahatma Gandhi was also an advocate, but he never appeared for such people," Justice Katju observed.
The senior counsel initially shot back, saying, "My Lord, in that case I would be losing most of my clients!" a remark that had the court room burst out laughing.
Later, the counsel said he would definitely keep the court's suggestion in mind while appearing in future cases.

SC raps prime minister for alleged inaction in 2G scam

On November 20, 2010, the SC pulled up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for taking very long (almost 11 months) to decide if ex-telecom minister A Raja can be prosecuted for his involvement in the 2G scam.
A bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly observed, "The alleged inaction and silence is worrying us."
Raja was indicted in a report by the government's auditor for costing the government nearly Rs 1.76 lakh crore by refusing to auction the spectrum in January 2008.
In November 2008, former law minister and Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy wrote to the prime minister, asking for permission to prosecute Raja.
The SC made it clear that Swamy's report against Raja was not vague, since he had clearly referred the process of giving undue benefits to some telecom companies.
"For good governance, there must be some time-limit for granting sanctions, if not three months. But 11 months is too long," the bench observed.

'You should behave with some responsibility'

On January 21, 2011, the Supreme Court severely criticised Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal for making statements undermining the Comptroller and Auditor General of India's report on the 2G spectrum scam and asked him to behave with some sense of responsibility.
A forthnight earlier, Sibal had rejected the estimates of the CAG on the loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore on account of allocation of 2G spectrum to telecom operators, saying, "It had no basis and was utterly erroneous."
"It is unfortunate. The minister should behave with some sense of responsibility," the bench of Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly said.
Sibal had said that the "CAG has done injustice to itself and the Opposition is doing injustice to the aam aadmi."
The bench also sought the reply of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for allegedly not taking action against the telecom firms and defaulting in meeting their roll out obligations.
The bench also directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to go ahead with the probe into the scam without getting influenced by anybody's statement.
"In our opinion, the CBI which is conducting the investigation into the 2G scam is expected to carry out the probe without being influenced by the statement made by anybody, anywhere, including the press," the bench said.

SC quashes the appointment of Central Vigilance Commissioner

Dealing a big blow to the government, the SC quashed the appointment of P J Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner, on March 3, 2011.
The apex court held that the recommendation made by the high-powered panel -- headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh -- did not consider the relevant material and therefore its advice "does not exist in law".
Thomas was an accused in the 1991-92 palmolein oil import scam in Kerala. The price of import was higher than the fixed international price, and cost the exchequer a loss of Rs 2.32 crore. The import order was signed by Thomas, who was then Kerala's food secretary.
Thomas was accused No 8 in the case.
A bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatantra Kumar said, "We declare that the recommendation made by the high-powered committee is non-existent in law. Which means that the recommendations made on September 3, 2010 for appointment of Thomas as CVC does not exist in law. Consequently, the appointment of Thomas goes."
In comments that came as an embarrassment for the prime minister, the bench severely criticised the committee for not considering the relevant material.
The bench reprimanded the panel for not considering the pending criminal case against Thomas in the Palmolein import case and the recommendations of the department of personnel between 2000 and 2004 for initiating disciplinary proceedings against him.

'Why didn't you cancel Reliance Infocomm's licence?'

On February 11, 2011, the SC slammed the government for not cancelling the licence of telecom giant Reliance Infocomm for illegally tapping the telephone of politician Amar Singh on the basis of forged orders.
Reliance Infocomm had intercepted Singh's telephone between October 22 and December 21, 2005 on the basis of two letters of the 'competent authority'. The letters had several grammatical errors and subsequently it was found that the signatures of officers were forged.
"There were gross errors in the letter on which the interception was done. The government should have cancelled the licence of the service provider per se," a bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly said.
"Anybody's communication can be intercepted by the unscrupulous service provider. It is an extremely dangerous situation that is happening," the bench observed while criticising the government for its inaction.
"Can you see where things have reached? It has sunk so low. The government doesn't seem to have taken action in a serious matter. Why has the government not taken any action," the bench said, adding, "All of you are in league and the court is the soft target".
The court was hearing a petition filed by the former Samajwadi Party leader who had sought judicial inquiry into the illegal tapping of his telephone allegedly at the behest of his political rivals, including the Congress.
Interestingly, on May 12, 2011, the SC dismissed Singh's petition, and also lifted a February 27, 2006 ban on publication of his illegally recorded conversations.

'Appointing tribals to counter Maoists is unconstitutional'

On July 5, 2011, the Supreme Court restrained the Chhattisgarh government and the Centre from appointing tribals as special police officers and arming them to counter Maoists, terming the step as "unconstitutional".
Asking the Chhattisgarh government and the Centre to desist from appointing the tribals as SPOs and arming them for countering the Naxals in any manner directly or indirectly, a bench comprising Justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar said that the appointment of tribal youths as SPOs was "unconstitutional".
The bench said the eligibility criteria including the educational qualification and training of the tribals to combat Maoists goes against the provisions of statutes and the Constitution.
It said the creation of Koya Commandos and Salwa Judum was in violation of the Constitution. The special police officers have been given the name Koya Commandos after that of a tribe in the Dantewada region.
The issue of SPOs had arisen during the hearing of a petition against the existence of the Salwa Judum (vigilante groups) in Naxal-hit regions of the state to fight Maoists.
The petition was filed by sociologist Nandini Sundar, historian Ramachandra Guha, former bureaucrat E A S Sarma and others seeking a direction to the state government to refrain from allegedly supporting the Salwa Judum.
During a hearing on the issue on May 4, 2011, the state government had justified the appointment of SPOs saying they have excelled in performing police duties.
It had also asserted that in anti-Maoist operations, the SPOs were of immense help in their role as guides, translators, spotters and on certain occasions they have saved the lives of regular security personnel while preventing more than dozen Maoist attacks on relief camps and helped security forces in anti-Naxal operations.
However, the court was of the view that arming tribals would lead to a "dangerous" situation if they turned against the State.
The court had also questioned the training programme of the SPOs.
"You are playing with the so-called SPOs. What will happen if they turn against the State. God save this country," the bench had said during the last hearing.

SC's no confidence in government on black money

On July 4, 2011l, the Supreme Court appointed a high-level Special Investigation Team headed by former apex court judge BP Jeevan Reddy to monitor the investigation and the steps being taken to bring back black money stashed away in foreign banks.
A bench comprising Justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar directed that the High-Level Committee constituted by the government to look into the issue of black money would "forthwith" be a part of the SIT.
The bench also directed the government to disclose the names of all the persons who were issued show cause notices by the authorities in connection with the probe into the black money issue.

Opening of Padmanabhaswamy temple vaults

The discovery of treasure well over Rs 90,000 crore from the vaults of Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala a few weeks ago stunned the nation.
How the temple amassed so much wealth is no secret. In 1750, Marthanda Varma, the then king of Travencore abdicated his throne in favour of Lord Padmanabha, declaring himself and his descendants as servants of the deity, following bloody infighting for the throne.
By doing so, Varma ensure that his kingdom was no longer prone to future attacks by neighbouring kingdoms, since Travencore was now ruled by a deity. In turn, the neighbouring kings made generous donations to the temple vaults to appease the god. And soon, the coffers were flowing with gold, and valuables.
While all major temples of the area were handed over to the Travancore Devaswom Board after merger of the princely state with the Indian Union after 1947, control of the Padmanabhaswamy temple was retained by the royal house through a covenant with the government.
Though the last royal ruler Sree Chithira Tirunal Balarama Varma left the entire treasure untouched he was made 'Rajapramukh' (status equivalent to Governor) after the merger.
Following the discovery three centuries later, authorities rushed to secure the treasure. Soon, heated discussions were flying to and fro, about how the wealth should be preserved and utilised.
Speculations were rife on the eventual fate of the wealth -- whether it will be used for charitable purposes or remain with the temple authorities.
The law in such cases stipulates that only the temple deity has a 'right' over this wealth.
As per Indian laws, a temple deity is considered to be a juristic person. A juristic or a legal person is entitled to the wealth it has been given and can even fight a legal battle to keep it.
The Supreme Court stepped in, and appointed a seven-member panel to oversee the opening of the vaults. The team, however, was unable to open vault 'B', even after repeated efforts.
Then, on July 8, 2011, the SC bench comprising Justices R V Raveendran and A K Patnaik restrained the committee from opening the vaults.
The bench asked the petitioner Raja Marthanda Varma, erstwhile Prince of Travancore, and the Kerala government to come out with appropriate suggestions for ensuring the sanctity and security of the ancient temple, which has come to the limelight following the discovery of the huge wealth.

Rs 90,000 crore found in Kerala temple belongs to Lord Vishnu

The Supreme Court on Wednesday appointed a curator to look after the Rs 90,000 crore treasure found at the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. Speculations have been rife on the eventual fate of the wealth -- whether it will be used for charitable purposes or remain with the temple authorities.
The law in such cases stipulates that only the temple deity has a 'right' over this wealth.
As per Indian laws, a temple deity is considered to be a juristic person. A juristic or a legal person is entitled to the wealth it has been given and can even fight a legal battle to keep it.
Padmanabhaswamy, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is the presiding deity at the temple.
According to Advocate General of Karnataka Ashok Harnahalli, "All this wealth belongs to the deity since it has been given in the name of the idol. Some people have demanded that this wealth be used for public good. But this is not possible as per the law. If ornaments and other treasure had been given to the temple, it is in the name of the deity which has sole right over it".

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