New Delhi / Bangalore / Patna: Satyendra Dubey's death has made him larger than life. The young IIT engineer who worked with the National Highways Authority of India was found dead in Bihar in November, 2003 - just after he had complained about the highway construction in a confidential letter to the Prime Minister's Office.
A couple of years later, in 2005, an IIM graduate, S Manjunath was murdered for trying to stop fuel adulteration. He worked for Indian Oil Corporation and was trying to clean up the system in Uttar Pradesh. Someone, didn't like what he was doing.
The furore had woken up the politicians. The then NDA government thought of bringing a law to protect whistleblowers, but till date it is only the Central Vigilance Commission which accepts complaints.
Now the Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) says a law to protect the vulnerable whistleblower is a must.
Says ARC Chairman, Veerappa Moily, "To reduce the scope of corruption and to encourage honest public servants, it is necessary to immediately provide protection to whistleblowers on the lines proposed by the Law Commission.''
But is a law enough? Will it really have teeth and more importantly be backed by people who matter?
RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal says, "If there is a political will, it can succeed. If there is no political will, then they put the most weak bureaucrats and the most corrupt ones to head these organisations and I think it will fail."
Already, those speaking on behalf of the government don't promise immediate action.
Says Congress spokesperson, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, "We are very committed and we are very likely to do it very soon, but obviously there cannot be time limits and deadlines for this."
With No commitments forthcoming, what do the parents of the victims want?
Satyendra Dubey's father, Bageshwari Dubey says, "If there is no political will to implement a law, a new law will be worthless."
Adds Manjunath's father, Shanmugam, "I don't know how much of a help this law is going to be, but even then I think the law should be there and the Government should protect whistleblowers."
There are many who believe western models of laws to protect the whistleblower can't be copied, because the Indian situation is unique and beset with challenges. But with no consensus or commitment from the Government yet, the voices of the nation's conscience remain vulnerable to abuse.