ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Sending Whistle-blowers to Their Deaths

Whistle-blowers continue to be murdered even as a law for their protection awaits notification.

The death of a 36-year-old Indian Administrative Service officer in Bengaluru and the suspicion that his death was not self-inflicted, has yet again sparked off a debate on the fate of whistle-blowers, Right to Information (RTI) activists, public servants who take on vested interests and witnesses to major crimes in India.

On 11 March, the Supreme Court upheld the life imprisonment awarded to six men for murdering an Indian Oil executive S Manjunath in 2005 because he had obstructed the oil mafia’s doings in Uttar Pradesh. Since 2003, when Satyendra Dubey was murdered in Bihar for exposing corruption in the Golden Quadrilateral Highway building project, India has witnessed several cases of assault and murder of RTI activists and whistle-blowers. There have been a large number of cases of harassment, physical intimidation and victimisation of those who have stood up to corruption. In a different set of cases, court witnesses are threatened and even murdered to prevent them from testifying against the accused, two witnesses in the rape case against so-called god-man Asaram Bapu were killed within six months of each other. A judge and police inspector have also reportedly received threats since the case began in mid-2014. Against this scenario stands the unenforced Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2011 while the courts continue to exhort governments to draw up effective witness protection mechanisms.

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