What are the proposed amendments to the Whistle Blowers Act? Do they defeat the very purpose of the legislation? Discuss critically.

The Whistle Blowers act 2011 provides for receiving and enquiring into public interest disclosures against corruption or misuse of power by public servant.
Provisions of Whistle Blowers Amendment bill 2015:

  • Bill prohibits reporting corruption related disclosures if the it falls under 10 categories like information relating to economic, scientific interests and security of country, cabinet proceedings, intellectual property etc.
  • Bill reverses the provision in the act which allowed for disclosure covered under Official secrets act 1923.
  • Any disclosure which relates to these topics, received by competent authority will be referred to Government authorized authority which will take decision on the matter.

The Amendment does defeat the purpose of amendment:

  • Whistleblower laws in other countries prevent disclosure of certain type of information relating to national security and intelligence. The bill include large number of categories barred from disclosure
  • Bill states that categories are modelled on RTI Act 2005 but comparison is not appropriate as in case of RTI the information is made public and in case to whistleblower only to a High level authority.
  • Bill does not specify any detail about the competent authority and its independence.
  • Reversing the disclosure norm under OSA 1923 will lead to lack of transparency and defeat purpose of clean and open government.
  • Bill misses an opportunity to include private companies and private persons in the ambit of law as many are involved in tax evasion and money laundering
  • Bill fails to strengthen security measures for protection of whistle blower and prevent leakage of information.

Bill aims to perpetuate a culture of secrecy and opaqueness rather than promoting clean and corruption free government. 

Question for UPSC Mains:
What are the proposed amendments to the Whistle Blowers Act? Do they defeat the very purpose of the legislation? Discuss critically.

Published: September 21, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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