Killing of whistle-blowers, RTI activists 'tragic': SC

New Delhi, Nov 19: The Supreme Court today expressed concern over the incidents of killings and attacks on RTI activists and whistle-blowers in the country but refused to issue direction to the Centre for their security, saying the "law and order" is a state subject. A bench of justices RM Lodha and Anil R Dave also turned down the plea for allowing RTI activists to get information under the Right to Information Act through e-mails to keep their identities "secret."

"The incident of killings (of whistle-blowers and RTI activists) are tragic and unfortunate, but the law and order is a state subject. It is for the state government to take action. We can not issue guidelines," said the bench. Refusing to taking up the plea on the issue, the court said use of technology for getting information under the transparency law might be misused.

"The technology is boon and as well as a bane...anybody can open hundred e-mail accounts under hundred names. The system has to be full proof before being implemented," Justice Lodha said, adding that having a technology is a "very good idea" but it has to be "workable" one. The court was hearing a petition filed by one Avishek Goenka, who had pleaded that the court should interfere in the matter as information seekers get "threat knocks" just after filing queries under the transparency law.

Goenka, in his argument, said almost 22 RTI activists have been killed recently and steps were required to provide security to such persons. "Why whistle blowers, nobody should be killed," the bench said, adding, "Don't undermine our democracy...our country is very strong. Don't make such a weak statement. And, rather, efforts should be made to strengthen the system." The bench said it cannot ask the Centre to frame guidelines on the issue and asked Goenka either to withdraw the plea or it would dismiss the same. Goenka then withdrew it.


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