Mumbai, 10 September, 2010
RTI Activists allege that there is a direct link between the uptrend in attacks on whistleblowers and RTI activists, and the arbitrary political appointments of Information Commissioners and Vigilance Commissioners’ at the Centre and various states. A At a press conference held yesterday, organized by RTI Activists G R Vora, Krishnaraj Rao and others, theatre professionals enacted a 20-minute street play that depicted a nexus between unscrupulous ministers, builders and information commissioners, which ended in the death of an RTI activist.
Speaking on the occasion, former IPS officer Y P Singh said, “Honest officers are greatly outnumbered in the civil services. Citizens who approach the administration with complaints of serious wrongdoings often find themselves surrounded. The proposed Public Interest Disclosures Bill 2010 does nothing to mitigate the risks faced by whistleblowers. The Bill demands that the citizens must keep the facts top-secret and disclose them only to the Vigilance Commissioner; that is the most dangerous thing that a citizen can possibly do, because his safety depends on the facts being widely publicized!” Whistleblowers Suryakant Shinde, V B Singh and Ambar Mufti from customs & dockyard services shared their real-life experiences about how they were hounded and victimized through misuse of the law enforcement machinery after they successfully blew the whistle on corrupt colleagues.
G R Vora stressed the key role of transparent appointment of Information Commissioners, and also Vigilance Commissioners, in cleaning up the system. “The present crop of Commissioners owe allegiance to the Chief Ministers and other powerful politicians who have unilaterally selected them, sometimes going against the opinion of even opposition leaders. Many of them are already tainted. So from the first day of their jobs, they are keen to return favours by preventing the disclosure of key information that would embarrass their political masters. How can they ever deliver information, justice and good governance to citizens? He asked.
Afterwards, the activists held a mock sendoff party for the outgoing Chief Information Commissioner. Krishnaraj Rao played the role of the CIC, and allowed other activists to express their feelings by garlanding him with chappals, throwing footwear at him and blackening his face. “I feel that throughout this state, there is widespread anger against the Information Commissioners who have by-and-large let down the people very badly. In the coming weeks, we hope to organize similar events in every town along with local activists, so that RTI appellants will get a chance to express their true feelings to the Maharashtra Government,” he said.
Detailed press note:
More event photos:
Brief introduction of four whistleblowers present:
For details, call Krish 98215 88114 or G R Vora 98691 95785