Govt to give HC draft policy for protection of whistleblowers

The Maharashtra government informed the Bombay High Court on Monday that it proposed to introduce guidelines for protection of whistleblowers and taking care of witnesses vulnerable to threats from criminals and anti-social elements.

A division bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and K K Tated was hearing a suo motu petition taken up in 2010, after the murder of Pune RTI activist Satish Shetty.

"We shall have two separate sets of guidelines — one for whistle-blowers and the second for witnesses," the government pleader told the court. A draft of such policy guidelines would be filed before the bench on the next hearing, the court was informed.

During the previous hearing, the court had asked the government to consider framing comprehensive guidelines for the protection of witnesses and whistleblowers. After perusing the recommendations made by the amicus curiae, the High Court, in May 2010, laid down measures to be undertaken by the government and directed a committee to be set up to look into the issue.

However, the state has not framed the guidelines yet.

In May 2010, the High Court had directed the state government to form a special committee to undertake the task of identifying social activists and whistleblowers across the state.

"These activists shall be identified through a transparent process. The guidelines on how to identify them shall be formed by the committee," the order had said. It said the government would provide police protection to any identified social activist/whistleblower or organisation complaining of threat or having been attacked.

"A database has to be prepared of names of all activists who have complained of threats. The database shall also include names of high-risk activists," the order said.

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