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Posts Tagged ‘whistle-blower’

Video from NCPRI convention on Grievance Redressal and Whistleblower Protection

In NCPRI on October 27, 2011 at 7:33 pm

News Report on NCPRI workshop on Grievance Redressal and Whistleblower Protection

In NCPRI on October 12, 2011 at 3:26 pm

From: The Hindu

NEW DELHI, October 12, 2011

NCPRI brainstorms Grievance Redress, Whistleblower Protection

Vidya Subrahmaniam

The National Campaign for the People’s Right to Information (NCPRI), which — along with other civil society groups — held a two-day convention here on its draft Bills on Grievance Redress and Whistleblower Protection, has urged the government immediately to put up the drafts for wide public consultation.

Earlier this year, the NCPRI unveiled a “Basket of Lokpal measures” intended to address corruption and grievances relating to delivery of services. Among these were legislative initiatives for grievance redress and whistleblower protection. The two-day convention, split into several sector-specific workshops, was attended by a range of stakeholders, including people from the grassroots. There was also an open session for bureaucrats and politicians, including National Advisory Council member Harsh Mander, Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, and Members of Parliament Brinda Karat and D. Raja.

Aruna Roy clarifies

The rationale for the basket of measures as opposed to a single overarching Lokpal, was provided by NCPRI leading light Aruna Roy. She argued that “different types of mal-governance” required “different types of processes and resolutions.” And thus “the separation of legislation for corruption and grievances in the Lokpal Basket.” Ms. Roy said effective grievance redress must be “decentralised, transparent and accessible.”

In a concept note, the NCPRI said the Grievance Redress Bill’s aim was to create a “system whereby common citizens can make the government answerable in terms of its functions, specifically in relation to its duties, commitments and obligations towards citizens.” The Bill was envisioned in two parts — a statement of obligations from each public authority and the means by which redress could be obtained in case the obligations were not met.

Under the statement of obligations, each public authority would define the services and goods it provides besides detailing the processes by which these can be accessed and laying down individual responsibility for providing the services and goods. To redress grievance each public authority would have a designated Grievance Redress Officer (GRO) who would receive and dispose of complaints within a specified timeframe and fix responsibility for the grievance occurring in the first place. Each district would have a District Grievance Redress Authority (DGRA) exercising appellate powers over the GRO, and an appeal against the DGRA would lie with the State or the Central Grievance Redress Commission.

Shekhar Singh of the NCPRI equated non-performance by a State functionary with corruption and said both needed reparative and punitive action.

Separate law hailed

Ms. Karat welcomed the idea of a separate legislation for grievance redress. However, she underscored the need to widen the ambit sufficiently to cover private service providers. “Public service is gradually getting incorporated into the private sector and in the name of choice and competition, private players are getting free play,” she said, adding that it was important to keep the future in mind while drafting a Grievance Redress Bill aimed at service providers. The second problem area, she said, was defining the eligibility of citizens getting a service. “Every citizen should be eligible for a public service. Targeting is iniquitous and undemocratic. A grievance redress law that does not address the fraudulent nature of the current practice of targeting eligibility would end up legitimising it.” She cautioned against designing a law with too many layers of supervision: “The more tiers we create, the more problems we create, leading to a bureaucratic maze.” .

Outlook Interview with Shehla Masood

In Interview on August 28, 2011 at 9:52 pm

From: Outlook

Interview

“I Fear For My Life, But I’ll Go On”

Outlook Interviews Shehla Masood

Long pushing for protection of whistle-blowers, Shehla Masood might have made her point most forcefully in death. She had long learned to live with threats to her life, as she revealed in the last interview before she died. Excerpts:

How difficult is it for a whistle-blower to function?

I was threatened by local MLA Vishwas Sarang because I exposed corruption relating to forest produce. He sent me a court notice just to put me under pressure. I exposed Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s expenditure on household entertainment which ran into lakhs every month. The money was spent on chaat, sweets, lunches, bouquets, telephone bills and mobile bills. I was threatened by principal information officer (general administrative department) Aruna Gupta. She wrote a letter to the information commissioner saying I had stolen some records and lodged an FIR against me. It was a blatant lie because when she was asked to furnish details of the records stolen from her office, she failed to give anything. She was served with a showcause notice. I was also threatened by the protocol officer of the CM’s house, Sanjay Chauhan, because I exposed how lakhs were spent on sitting judges of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The money was spent on their stay in luxury hotels and travel. I also drew attention towards the 12 serving judges who were involved in corruption. These judges came to the wedding of the son of principal secretary (law) in December 2010 and the expenses were borne by the state government. I draw strength from these threats. But at the same time, I realise that the government is not serious in protecting whistle-blowers. I believe this is because of political pressure. There is no political will to fight corruption. And I am sorry to say that there is very little unity among the activists as they also have vested interests.

How does one work in this situation?

See, I am being constantly threatened. I was threatened by Pawan Shrivastava (currently IG, police training institute, Indore) in 2008. He is thoroughly corrupt. His proximity with politicians allows him to commit deeds which are immoral and against the law. He is a perpetual law offender. He is close to a few RSS leaders and to the vice-president of BJP’s Madhya Pradesh unit, Anil Dave. I filed an RTI application in 2008 to gather information on the tender process adopted by the cultural department. The day I filed it, Pawan Srivastava called me on my mobile and not only threatened me with dire consequences but also abused me. I have recorded part of his conversation which corroborates my claim. However, that recording and complaints to senior police officers and to Union home minister P. Chidambaram have hardly helped me. I fear for my life. But I will continue working and carry on.

What issues are you fighting for?

I’m fighting for good governance, transparency, police reforms and environmental issues like tiger conservation. I’ve been using the RTI Act since 2005 as a tool to collect evidence. It is the nexus between politicians and babus which is slowly poisoning our country. The fight is between the powerful and weak and I represent the weakest and the poorest of society.

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