May 3, 2013
The law might provide a semblance of protection to publishing houses and their staff like editors. Even that appears to be illusory. But that illusion is absent in respect of individuals, like scientists, especially whistleblowers.
For affording real protection, laws have to go beyond "libel". Institutions have a thousand ways of persecuting and destroying dissidents, and these may not show a direct link to the topic of dissent or whistle-blowing. The dissenters or whistleblowers will be subjected to extreme harassment at their place of work, or even outside it. Some examples of the tactics are as follows. Co-workers or subordinates will be encouraged to insult them or physically assault them, and file false complaints against them. The administration will delay or refuse payment of their salaries or other dues. Their workplace will be shifted to the dirtiest, noisiest location in the building. Or they may be "transferred" suddenly to a remote god-forsaken place in the country (or outside), where even drinking water will not be available. Every institution, at least in India, has a "dirty tricks" department, including lawyers, for such stratagems. Some organizations send their senior staff, to be placed in management positions, to undergo "management training" where they learn such stratagems among other things such as how to get around government rules on financial transactions.
The only rule of the game is that the institutions' reputations, as also those of its top bosses, have to be protected at all costs. Truth in science is not a relevant consideration.
In a nutshell, dissent and whistle blowing are always hazardous activities, and no law can protect the practitioners unless the ministers in the government have an ardent desire and a missionary zeal.