The Bombay High Court on Monday pulled up the state government for not laying down guidelines for providing police protection to RTI activists and whistleblowers, and asked it to take immediate steps to ensure their security.
The court’s criticism came during the hearing of a suo motu petition taken up after the murder of Pune-based RTI activist Satish Shetty, who is suspected to have been killed as he was involved in the unearthing of several dubious land dealings in and around Pune. The case involving his murder is being investigated by the CBI after the state government transferred the probe to the agency in April 2010.
During the hearing, additional government pleader Nitin Deshpande told the court that a special committee has been set up to examine proposals for protection to be given to individual activists or social organisations. However, the court noted that no guidelines on the matter have been laid down as yet by the government.
A division bench of acting Chief Justice D D Sinha and Justice K K Tated on Monday said, “Considering the sensitivity of the issue, the government should have issued the necessary guidelines much earlier.”
The judges have directed the government to provide interim police protection to activists who have complained of having been threatened. The judges said it is high time” for the state government to come up with a set of guidelines on when to grant such police protection.
The court has now asked the state government to file an affidavit before it within four weeks as to when the guidelines would be issued.