The disclosure by a person, usually an employee in a government agency or private enterprise, to the public or to those in authority, of mismanagement, corruption, illegality, or some other wrongdoing is called whistle blowing and the person disclosing is known as the whistleblower. It was less than a year back on November 19th, Manjunath Shanmugam,an IIM graduate gave his life to the country while trying to expose the corruption in petroleum marketing. For a month or so, his heroic efforts to expose corruption caught the attention of the nation.
The Government of India has been considering adopting a whistleblower protection law for several years. In 2003, the Law Commission of India recommended the adoption of the Public Interest Disclosure (Protection of Informers) Act, 2002. In August 2010, the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Persons Making the Disclosures Bill, 2010 was introduced into the Lok Sabha, lower house of the Parliament of India. The Bill was approved by the cabinet in June, 2011. The Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Persons Making the Disclosures Bill, 2010 was renamed as The Whistleblowers’ Protection Bill, 2011 by the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice. The Whistleblowers’ Protection Bill, 2011 was passed by the Lok Sabha on 28 December 2011. The Bill is however currently pending in the upper house of Parliament, Rajya Sabha for discussion and further passage. The Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha on 29 March 2012 by V. Narayanasamy, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs. However in the dearth of legislation the whistle-blowers suffer from threats to life and fear of the people in power. The Bill aims to set up a regular mechanism to encourage persons to disclose information on corruption or willful misuse of power by public servants, including Ministers.The Whistleblowers’ Protection Bill also seeks to provide for adequate protection to persons reporting corruption or willful misuse of discretion which causes a demonstrable loss to the government, or commission of a criminal offence by a public servant.The Bill sets forth the procedure for inquiring into the disclosures and provides for safeguards against victimization. At the same time, it provides punishment for false or frivolous complaints.
The Bill was passed on February 20th, 2014 and is claimed to be one of the six anti-graft bills that have been billed by the government as possible effective tools against corruption. Although the Bill has been placed in the Parliament for a very long time, it still brings India amongst the 140 countries who have signed the UN Convention against Corruption.Indian RTI (Right to Information) activists have been campaigning for the passage of this legislature even as 40 Indian whistle blowers have been killed in the past 5 years. The recent years have faced numerous incidents of harassment, intimidation and violence been reported by whistleblowers across the country. As such, the Bill has a wide responsibility to be used as an invaluable weapon for anti-graft activists unearthing bribery and swindling in government practices. The Bill is therefore, presumed to create a legal framework to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption involving government officials.
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