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Whistle Blower Forum launched to fight corruption

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New Delhi: Eminent Civil Society members, led by Justice (retd.) A P Shah, have launched ‘Citizens Whistle Blower Forum‘ on February 28 to fight Corruption.The forum was launched during the conclusion of the two-day ‘Act Now – National Convention on Corruption‘.

Here is the press release issued by the forum.

Concerned with the lack of effective systematic mechanisms to fight Corruption and acting in public interest, several eminent members of the Civil Society came together today to launch the Citizens Whistle Blower Forum (CWBF/Forum) with a firm resolve to contribute significantly in the fight against corruption. The founding members of the Forum is an eclectic and confidence inspiring combination of legal luminaries like Justice (retd.) A P Shah, Justice (retd.) N Santosh Hegde, senior ex-bureaucrats like Mr. E.A.S. Sarma, Mr. Wajahat Habibullah, ex-head of Indian Navy: Admiral (retd.) L. Ramdas besides a number of well known social and civil rights Activists represented by Ms. Aruna Roy, Mr. Jagdeep Chhoker and Mr. Prashant Bhushan (himself a noted lawyer also).

Corruption: the multi-faceted evil

Recently, the Hon’ble Supreme Court had called corruption “a national economic terror” and called for stringent measures to control this social calamity. Several international organisations have echoed similar concerns earlier:

  • In 2015, India was ranked 85th out of 175 countries in Transparency International’sCorruption Perceptions Index.
  • The World Bank has earlier found corruption to be the single greatest obstacleto economic and social development.
  • In his foreword to the UN Convention against Corruption, the then Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi K Annan said: “Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on society. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and it allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish. This evil phenomenon is found in all countries, big and small, rich and poor – but it is in the developing world that its effects are more destructive. Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development, undermining the government’s ability to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice and discouraging foreign aid and investment. Corruption is a key element in economic underperformance and the major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development”.

A. Mechanisms to fight Corruption

In its Charter, the Forum noted that the two main weapons to fight corruption, i.e., (A) legislation and (B) Whistleblowers have sadly not been allowed to develop and deliver adequately in India.

B. Weak and ineffective Legislations

As per the said Charter, pursuant to the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court passed while hearing Writ Petition (C) No.539/2003 regarding Shri Satyendra Dubey, who had to pay for his life for exposing the scam in the “Golden Quadrilateral highway construction project, the Central Government vide its notification dated April 21, 2004 authorised the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) as the designated Agency to, inter-alia, investigate written complaints or disclosure on any allegation of corruption or of mis-use of office, (b) recommend appropriate action against the wrong doers, (c) recommend taking corrective measures to prevent recurrence of wrong doing in future and (d) ensure protection of the Whistle Blowers from administrative harassment and victimisation. Despite receiving a large number of complaints during the last decade, the track record of CVC is anything but satisfactory, let alone impressive: it rarely took any action for either conducting independent & effective investigations or for protection of the Whistle Blowers. Two main reasons could be attributed to this: (1) Merit was overlooked and appointments were often driven by political considerations and (2) “conflict of interest” since the CVO had no independent investigative machinery.

The Whistleblower protection Act, 2011 (Act) is yet to be notified and efforts are already under way to dilute it further. Even in its present form, the Act is a weak piece of legislation and suffers from a number of lacunae/defects. Some of these are:

  1. Its scope is restricted to complaints against public servants only and private entities are outside its ambit,
  2. The Special Protection Group (SPG), Prime Minister, Chief Ministers of States, Judges of High Court & Supreme Court are not covered.
  3. The mechanism for investigation against a public servant by authorities such as the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) whose appointments are often driven by political considerations fails to inspire confidence.
  4. Whistleblowers hesitate to confide in public authorities for fear of disclosure of their identity and/or probable harassment.

C. Whistle blowing: The contrasting Global and Indian perspectives

Globally, Whistle Blowers have emerged as one of the most effective tools to fight corruption. Countries like USA even give substantial financial rewards to them. Sadly, in India, “Whistle blower” is still a dirty word. “Shooting the messenger” is a common phenomenon in India. Most have to undergo harassments of various kinds. Some have literally paid with their lives. Disillusioned by the inaction and lack of confidence in public authorities, most prospective Whistle Blowers now choose to remain silent. Corruption thereby continues to flourish.

Need for the Forum to step in

It is to fill this void, address the limited efficacy of the relevant legislations and acting in public interest, that the aforesaid distinguished members of the civil society have launched the Citizens Whistle Blower Forum. The Forum will, inter-alia,:

  • Provide the much needed confidence to the Whistle Blowers to expose without fear, inter-alia, cases of corruption, commission of any criminal offense or willful misuse of powers by any person/entity including but not limited to any public, private, political, judicial or constitutional entity which, prime-facie, causes loss to the public exchequer, results in human rights violations, endangers national security and/or sovereignty or is against the larger public interest,
  • Investigate and take such cases to their logical conclusion in a time bound manner including taking up the issues with the Authorities and Courts for investigation and/or prosecution,
  • Keep confidential the identity of the Whistleblower if so desired by them and provide necessary support to them for preventing their victimization and harassment.

Procedure and contact details:

The procedure for exposing cases referred to in (1) above and bringing them to the notice of the Forum. The Forum can be reached at:

  1. citizenswhistleblowerforum@gmail.com
  2. citizenswhistleblowerforum.org
  3. Office Address: Citizens Whistle Blower Forum, Common Cause House, 5, Institutional Area, Nelson Mandela Marg, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi – 110070.

Hope and Optimism

It is hoped that the members of the public will utilize the Forum to fight corruption and contribute in building a better, ethical and stronger India that we can all be proud of.

  • gauri

    this is a very good initiative taken seeing the past incidents regarding the whistle blowers

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Ex-Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif Indicted on Corruption Charges

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Muhammad Safdar
Muhammad Safdar, husband of Maryam Nawaz, daughter of ousted Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif, waves from a a vehicle as he arrives at an accountability court in Islamabad. VOA

Islamabad, October 19: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been indicted on corruption charges stemming from information taken from the so-called “Panama Papers.”

The country’s anti-corruption court indicted the 67-year-old Sharif during a hearing Thursday in Islamabad. His daughter Maryam and son-in-law Mohammed Safdar were also indicted. Maryam Sharif and Mohammed Safdar appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A lawyer for the elder Sharif, who is in London with his wife as she undergoes cancer treatment, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Maryam Sharif angrily dismissed the allegations as “baseless.”

Sharif was disqualified by Pakistan’s Supreme Court and removed from office in July after leaked documents last year from a Panama-based law firm revealed the family held a number of unreported overseas assets.(VOA)

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Journalist Behind the Panama Papers Killed in a Car Bomb

Caruana Galizia was recently described by the American news outlet Politico as a "one-woman WikiLeaks".

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Daphne Caruana Galizia died on Monday when her car, a Peugeot 108, was destroyed by a powerful explosive device. (Representative image) Pixabay

Valletta, October 17, 2017 : A journalist who led the Panama Papers probe into corruption in Malta was killed on Monday in a car bomb near her residence, the media reported.

Daphne Caruana Galizia died on Monday when her car, a Peugeot 108, was destroyed by a powerful explosive device, reports the Guardian.

A blogger whose posts often attracted more readers than the combined circulation of the country’s newspapers, Caruana Galizia was recently described by the American news outlet Politico as a “one-woman WikiLeaks”.

Her latest revelations accused Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan.

No group or individual claimed responsibility for the attack, the Guardian reported.

Malta’s President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, called for calm. “In these moments, when the country is shocked by such a vicious attack, I call on everyone to measure their words, to not pass judgement and to show solidarity.”

ALSO READ Not Just Journalist Ram Chandra Chhatrapati, these 9 People too Bore the Brunt of Speaking Truth to Fight Corruption

In a statement, Muscat condemned the “barbaric attack”.

“Everyone knows Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine,” said Muscat, adding “Both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way.”

He announced in parliament later on Monday that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officers were on their way to Malta to assist with the investigation, following his request for help from the US government.

According to local media reports, Caruana Galizia filed a police report 15 days ago to say that she had been receiving death threats.

The journalist posted her final blog on her Running Commentary website at 2.35 p.m. on Monday, and the explosion, which occurred near her home, was reported to police just after 3 p.m.

Over the last two years, her reporting had largely focused on revelations from the Panama Papers, a cache of 11.5 million documents leaked from the internal database of the world’s fourth largest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. (IANS)

 

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Amit Shah Rejects Allegation of Money Laundering on Son Jay Shah

"Where has money laundering been done? All the transactions happened through cheques and banks," claimed Amit Shah at an event.

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Amit Shah, BJP National President. Wikimedia

Ahmedabad, October 13, 2017 : Breaking his silence, BJP president Amit Shah rejected allegations of money laundering against his son Jay Shah whose company had reportedly recorded an extraordinary spike in business after the BJP came to power at the Centre, and asserted that it had not done any business with the government nor taken any kickbacks.

He also said that unlike the Congress, which had faced many corruption charges in the past, his son has shown courage to file a civil and criminal defamation suit on the allegations levelled against him and “invited a probe against himself” by this step.

“There is no money laundering involved in Jay’s company. This company is completely in commodity business, where turnover is more while the profit is less. We have exported bajra, corn and rice while coriander was imported. And after doing a turnover of Rs 80 crore, they don’t tell how much they made profit,” Amit Shah said at an “India Today” event “Gujarat Panchayat”.

Answering questions, he said that after making a turnover of Rs 80 crore, Jay made a loss of Rs 1.5 crore. “Where has money laundering been done? All the transactions happened through cheques and banks,” he said.

Asked about Jay Shah filing a defamation suit against the publication, Shah said: “Before answering your question I would like to ask you one thing. After Independence, how many corruption charges have been made against the Congress?

“Please understand this is not corruption. Many allegations of corruption were made against the Congress. Did it ever file a civil suit or defamation suit? No. Why they lacked such courage? Today Jay has filed a defamation as well as civil suit and is demanding a probe himself. Those who have the evidence can submit it to the court, and then the court will decide,” the BJP president said.

He said: “We have ourselves invited a probe and on the company issue I want to clarify that it has not done business with the government of even Re 1 nor taken any government land or tender. Neither has it received kickbacks as in the case of Bofors.”

When asked about Jay’s company securing unsecured loans, Shah said it was not unsecured loans. “It was a line of credit,” he added. (IANS)