Sunday December 15, 2019
Home India Whistle Blowe...

Whistle Blower Forum launched to fight corruption

1
//

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

Next Story

Impeachment Process Divides Global Opinion, but Shows Democracy in Action

Trump Impeachment Drama Gets Attention, Mixed Reviews Around World

0
Impeachment Process of Donald Trump
President Donald Trump waits outside the Oval Office of the White House before walking with first lady Melania Trump and son Barron Trump on the South Lawn in Washington, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Trump is traveling to Florida for a campaign rally and the Thanksgiving holiday. VOA
As the impeachment process against U.S. President Donald Trump unfolds, it’s not only Americans who are following every twist and turn. Millions of people around the world have been following the testimonies on Capitol Hill and are fascinated by the political warfare in Washington. Many observers say it shows American democracy in action.

Trump is accused of threatening to withhold $392 million in military assistance to Ukraine, unless Kyiv launched a public corruption investigation into the family of his political rival, the Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden. Soliciting foreign interference in U.S. democracy is unlawful and Trump strongly denies the allegations.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, Britain is trying to break out of its own political crisis caused by the 2016 vote to leave the European Union. With a general election imminent, many Britons see their own recent political chaos mirrored across the Atlantic, says political scientist Thomas Gift of University College London.

“Both the U.S. and the U.K. [Britain] are rivaling one another for levels of dysfunction in government, or lack of ability to get things done,” Gift said. “Typically, the world, including the U.K., looks to the U.S. as a model of democratic governance and has had, for a long time, institutions of power and leadership that project integrity. And I think watching this, particularly from abroad, I think does to some extent undercut that belief that the U.S. is this kind of moral, ethical and democratic leader.”

Polls suggest less than one in five Britons have a positive opinion of Trump — and that’s echoed in the views of many watching the impeachment process play out.

View of the Arc de Triomphe
General view of the Arc de Triomphe as French President Emmanuel Macron attends a commemoration ceremony for Armistice day, 101 years after the end of the First World War, in Paris, France. VOA

“If it goes through the House, I really hope that the Senate really stand up and do something about it. He shouldn’t be president and he should be impeached,” London resident Dayo Thomas told VOA.

In Paris, there is mixed interest in Washington’s political battles. Jacques Grau, a physician, believes the impeachment process is a good idea. “It allows democracy to function,” he told VOA.

Student Selene Ay says many of her contemporaries are not that interested.

“I know a lot of people followed after [Trump] was elected. But I think it kind of died down, I guess. People don’t care that much.”

There appears to be greater interest in Russia — and seemingly, greater support for Trump. Moscow resident Mikhail says the Americans elected Trump, “but now they want to take the decision back. That is wrong,” he said.

Fellow Moscow resident Dmitri says it is a political struggle. “[Joe] Biden’s team is just looking for compromising information to make Trump step down.”

They may be strategic rivals, but Russia doesn’t necessarily welcome America’s political problems, according to Andrey Kortunov, director of the Russian Council on International Affairs.

Buildings in Cairo, Egypt
A general view of clustered buildings in Cairo, Egypt. VOA

“The only U.S. president who can fix problems with Moscow is a strong U.S. president,” Kortunov told VOA. “So if Trump is under impeachment it definitely weakens his position and it becomes more difficult for him to manage this very complex and very delicate relationship. We need to have predictable partners. Weakness makes leaders unpredictable.”

With 1.3 billion people, India is often called the world’s biggest democracy. In Delhi, there is admiration for principle of impeachment. “It means that it is a very fair, a proper democracy at work,” according to Dipika Nanjappa, who works at a local voluntary organization. Retired government official Ashish Banerjee agrees: “We need to be more accountable. Our leaders need to be more accountable,” he told VOA.

Cairo resident Sameh Ghoneim sees echoes of Egypt’s own leadership in the alleged actions of Donald Trump. “He is only interested in personal gain,” said Ghoneim, who works as a mining engineer outside the capital. “He will look for corruption in others when it helps him.”

ALSO READ: Trump to Pursue Higher Sales Age for Vaping Devices: ‘An Age Limit of 21 or So’

In South Africa’s Johannesburg, opinion on Trump’s fate is again divided. “I think he’s doing just fine, so I don’t see the reason why he should be removed,” said local chef Khanyisile Shongwe. Cleaner Joseph Maisa is no fan of the U.S. president. “He doesn’t bring nice things in America. That is why he should be removed.”

The impeachment process could go on well into 2020, as the U.S. also gears up for the presidential election following what promises to be a bitterly fought campaign. Each twist and turn will be followed closely across the globe. (VOA)