LEGAL December 2019
In the absence of a comprehensive law, here’s how employee whistleblowers fare :
Abhishek Mishra was driving from Udaipur to Gurgaon along with his parents in his father’s new Maruti Ciaz, a car the senior Mishra had bought a month ago with his retirement money. It was afternoon and this stretch of National Highway 8 that connects Mumbai to Delhi via Rajasthan, near Alwar, did not have road dividers.
Out of the blue and in broad daylight, Mysore says, a long trailer truck driving on the opposite lane veered across and hit his car head on. The airbags of the new Ciaz that deployed in the nick of time saved the family. By the time Mishra had got back his bearings and started calling friends and family the trailer truck had reversed back and driven off.
Mishra’s mother had to be hospitalized later in the day for internal bleeding and his father needed multiple surgeries on his face. The car took a month and half of repair work. Mishra 37, believes this was no ordinary accident. He thinks this was an attempt on his life a consequence of him turning a whistleblower against his former employer in Hyderabad back in 20176.
This was also not the first rough experience for Mishra. He recalls how in 2016 in Hyderabad, some toughies had turned up as he went about grocery shopping and advised him to leave the city. Mishra’s story might be an extreme but aggressive pushback and career damaging consequences are not uncommon for whistleblowers.
At a time when a parade of corporate scams has be smirched the reputation of India Inc, the experience of those who have blown the whistle paint a gloomy picture. Many scams might not have reached the scale they did had potential whistleblowers felt secure to come out.
The Whistleblower Protection Act 2014, passed by both houses of the Parliament and signed by the President in 2014, is yet to be operationalized and Indian Companies operate under the whistleblower norms incorporated in the Companies Act of 2013. Political activists have been protesting they delay in operationalizing the Act, but its impact on the corporate world is not adequately debated.
Consumer commission asks LIC to pay Rs. 9.3 lakh to policyholder’s widow :
The LIC has recently been asked by the Apex consumer commission to pay Rs.9.03 lakhs to the widow of a policy-holder for repudiating their claims in the context of concealing information about a previous treatment and hospitalization.
LIC’s review petition has been dismissed by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal (commission (NCDRC) while it upheld the Wardha district consumer forums order directing to pay the claim amount to Ratna, wife of deceased Digambarrao Thakre. LIC had refused to pay two of Thakre;s claims in 2003, saying he had suppressed information about treatment undergone for asthma prior to taking the policy.
However, the commission mentioned that there was no evidence that Thakre was suffering with any disease on the day the policies were issued to him and said that even if Thakre had such an illness earlier, he was healthy at the time when LIC had issued him the policies, therefore the contract cannot be vitiated on the grounds of suppress of facts.
A contract of this nature cannot be termed bad and be terminated on ground of having obtained by fraud or can be declared as vitiated on facts which were not in existence on the day of contract, NCDRC presiding member DeepaSharma said.