Right to Information and Whistle Blower: A Journey from Theory to Practice
History is witness to the fact that there have always been informers who reveal inside information to others. Ancient Greeks talked about whistleblowing centuries before. Lykourgos, the Athenian orator, in his speech against Leokratis said: neither laws nor judges can bring any results unless someone denounces the wrongdoers. Even in Ancient India, the concept of a Whistle blower was in existence, Kautilya proposed- “Any informant (súchaka) who supplies information about embezzlement just under perpetration shall, if he succeeds in proving it, get as reward one-sixth of the amount in question; if he happens to be a government servant (bhritaka), he shall get for the same act one-twelfth of the amount.
Whistle blowers play an important role in fighting corruption, in protecting the public and the environment from harm, and in providing accountability for the violation of legal norms. When an individual blows the whistle on alleged wrongdoing, he/she may suffer severe financial consequences. The law recognizes the social good that can come from whistleblowing by providing some protection for them and encouraging such conduct in a variety of ways.
Even so, whistle blowers continue to occupy a fundamentally ambivalent position in society. Some whistle blowers are celebrated for their courage and self-sacrifice in protecting society from harm. But at the same time, many whistle blowers experience financial and social retaliation. This ambivalence is reflected in the law of whistleblowing: both its limited scope and how it operates. The law offers whistle blowers some legal protection, but government officials who are responsible for administering those laws often find ways to narrow that protection. Thus, even the most robust legal protection cannot protect whistle blowers from the social consequences of their action.
While whistle blowers can play a critical role in protecting the public, they often pay an enormous personal price. The article will seek to aid an understanding of how different policy purposes, approaches, and legal options can be combined in the design of better legislation. It provides a guide to key elements of the new legislation, as an example of legislative development taking place over a long period, informed by different trends.
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