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Don’t gag whistleblowers: SC
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

In our view, a whistleblower tries to highlight the malfunctioning in a system or an establishment and there is no reason to silence such a person

— An SC Bench

New Delhi, August 13
Acknowledging the importance of freedom of speech and the role of whistleblowers, the Supreme Court today dismissed a contempt petition against a person who wrote an editorial highlighting the irregularities and corruption in the Central Excise, Customs and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT).

A Bench comprising Justices GS Singhvi and Asok Kumar Ganguly also slapped a cost of Rs 2 lakh on the Indirect Tax Practitioners Association that had filed the petition for abusing the process of the court.

“The petitioner is a body of professionals who represent the cause of their clients before CESTAT and may be other Tribunals and authorities. They are expected to be vigilant and interested in transparent functioning of CESTAT. However, instead of doing that, they have come forward to denounce the editorial,” the apex court said.

The association had filed the petition stating that one RK Jain had written the editorial despite giving an undertaking to the apex court that he would desist from such writings. Jain had given the undertaking in a similar case earlier.

The court observed that Jain wrote the editorial in Excise Law Times as his communication to various Finance Ministry officials and the Minister did not have any impact. “In our view, a person like the respondent (Jain) can appropriately be described as whistleblower for the system who has tried to highlight the malfunctioning of an important institution established for dealing with cases involving revenue of the state and there is no reason to silence such person,” the court ruled.





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