CPIL refuses to disclose the name of the source of CBI Director’s residence diary
The ‘Centre for Public Interest Litigation’ (CPIL) yesterday refused to reveal the identity of the whistleblower who had provided it with the visitor’s register allegedly showing certain persons connected to the scam case being investigated by CBI visiting the head of the agency, the CBI director Ranjit Sinha, at his residence.
On September 15, the Supreme Court had asked the NGO's counsel, Prashant Bhushan, to inform the name of the source who provided the diary under sealed cover to the court. In response to the Supreme Court order, the CPIL said keeping the identity a secret was the best protection as in the past, several whistleblowers and RTI activists, who had proved to be difficult for powerful persons, were killed. The CPIL cited the case of Satyendra Dubey who had complained to the PMO about the wrongdoings of his seniors in NHAI specifically requesting the PMO not to reveal his identity. Revelation of his identity led to his murder on November 27, 2003. The instances of Manjunath, Amit Jethwa and Shashidhar Mishra who were killed for exposing corruption were also mentioned.
An analogy was drawn with the ‘Jain hawala diary’ case where the Supreme Court had directed for an investigation by the CBI into allegations of bribes paid to top politicians without asking the source. Similar reference was made to the Niirja Radia case where CBI probe was ordered regarding the intercepts of telephone conversations of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with industrialists, politicians and journalists in connection with the 2G scam case without asking the petitioner the source of the telephone intercepts.
Regarding the claim of the CBI Director that 90% of entries in the visitors' diary were forged, the CPIL replied that the entries can be easily cross verified by examining 23 ITBP and 4 CBI constables who were stationed at the CBI director’s residence. The CPIL argued that the content of the information is important and not its source.
In a meeting of the governing body of the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), it was decided that the names of the whistleblowers cannot be disclosed and the same was communicated to the Apex Court. The next step of the court would be keenly watched by the people. Would the Court take the CPIL's refusal to reveal the whistleblower's name as an insult and in contempt? The refusal also raises the question of the security of the source as to whether the disclosure of the name in a sealed cover to the judges is required at all and also whether the same should be entrusted to the judges.