Whistleblower Protection (Amendment Bill), 2015

The Whistleblower Protection Act 2011 act protects the whistleblowers who make public interest disclosure of corruption by public servants. The act also makes provisions for false complaints. The act came into force in May 9, 2014.

Salient Features

  • This act makes provisions to protect the persons making public interest disclosure related to an act of corruption, misuse of power, or criminal offense by a public servant.
  • It provides that any public servant or private individual or non-governmental organization can make such a disclosure to Central or State Vigilance Commission. The complaint must include the identity of the complainant.
  • The Vigilance Commission shall not disclose the identity of the complainant except to the head of the department if he deems it necessary.
  • The Act penalizes any person who has disclosed the identity of the complainant.
  • The Act prescribes penalties for knowingly making false complaints.

Criticism

Following are specific points of criticism for this act:

  • Covers only central government employees. Does not cover state government / private bodies
  • No provisions of incentives for whistle blowing.
  • Does not cover corporate whistleblowers
  • Powers of CVC is limited to making recommendations. It cannot impose penalties.
  • Victimization neither defined nor covered properly.

Whistleblower Protection Act (Amendment) Bill, 2015

In 2015, the government had introduced a bill in the parliament to amend the 2011 act. This bill is still pending. The key objective of this bill, which comes with a list of don’t dos, are as follows:

is that whistleblowers should not be allowed to reveal any documents classified under the Official Secrets Act of 1923, even if the purpose is to disclose acts of corruption, misuse of power or criminal activities. Further, it also puts a bar on disclosure of any information that could prejudicially affect the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, friendly relations with foreign State.

Thus, the bill puts bars on the activity of whistle blowing in such a way that only some information obtained through RTI etc. has been kept in its ambit. The bill says that the whistleblowers would be entitled to official protection only if these conditions are met; and they could face action if they are not.

Reaction to the bill

The bill has come under heavy criticism from RTI activists and anti-corruption crusaders. They say that the bill has created huge area of exceptions and due to this, the state authorities would be out of reach of whistleblowers. They also claim that the proposed amendments were drafted without any kind of public consultation and participation. It is also said that if the amendments to Whistleblowers Act, 2011 tabled in the Parliament is passed, there may be no one left to protect.

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