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Gov't watering down whistleblower protection bill until there's little more than RTI activism left, complains RTI activist

The government is seeking to amend the Whistleblower Protection Act passed during the Congress-led UPA regime by introducing 10 categories of exemptions. The amendment Bill has already been passed by Lok Sabha in the Budget session and faced the ire of opposition parties for introducing exemptions, reported the Economic Times and others.

The new proposals exempted matters related to sovereignty, strategic, scientific or economic interests of India or the incitement of an offence. Also excluded are deliberatiosn of the council of ministers, things that are "forbidden to be published by a court", information received from foreign governments and information that would "impede a probe".

The bill is currently under consideration of the Rajya Sabha where it was listed for passing on Tuesday and has caused concerns with activists.

RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak had under the RTI Act accessed the cabinet note with the proposal, which justifies the changes by stating: "In the absence of any restrictions... the provision confers an absolute right on the whistleblower to make disclosures..."

Nayak told the ET: "The government has taken all the categories exempted from disclosure under RTI Act lock stock and barrel into the Whistleblowers Protection Bill. Now it becomes almost impossible for a whistleblower to disclose anything which has not been accessed under RTI Act."

Legally India reported on May 6, 2015 that the cabinet approved the amendments in the Whistleblowers Protection Act.

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