Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2011

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For the Act in United States, see Whistleblower Protection Act.

Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2011 is an Act of the Parliament of India which provides a mechanism to investigate alleged corruption and misuse of power by public servants and also protect anyone who exposes alleged wrongdoing in government bodies, projects and offices. The wrongdoing might take the form of fraud, corruption or mismanagement. The Act will also ensure punishment for false or frivolous complaints.[1]

The Act was approved by the Cabinet of India as part of a drive to eliminate corruption in the country's bureaucracy[2][3] and passed by the Lok Sabha on 27 December 2011.[4] The Bill was passed by Rajya Sabha on 21 February 2014 and received the President's assent on 9 May 2014.[5][6] The Act has not come into force till now.


Intent[edit]

An Act to establish a mechanism to receive complaints relating to disclosure on any allegation of corruption or willful misuse of power or willful misuse of discretion against any public servant and to inquire or cause an inquiry into such disclosure and to provide adequate safeguards against victimization of the person making such complaint and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.

Salient Features[edit]

  • The Act seeks to protect whistle blowers, i.e. persons making a public interest disclosure related to an act of corruption, misuse of power, or criminal offense by a public servant.
  • Any public servant or any other person including a non-governmental organization may make such a disclosure to the Central or State Vigilance Commission.
  • Every complaint has to 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.


Background[edit]

There have been multiple instances of threatening, harassment and even murder of various whistleblowers.[7][8] An engineer, Satyendra Dubey, was murdered in November 2003; Dubey had blown the whistle in a corruption case in the National Highways Authority of India’s Golden Quadrilateral project.[9]

Two years later, an Indian Oil Corporation officer, Shanmughan Manjunath, was murdered for sealing a petrol pump that was selling adulterated fuel.[10][11]

A Karnataka official SP Mahantesh, said to be a whistle-blower in controversial land allotments by societies was murdered in May 2012. Mahantesh was working as Deputy Director of the audit wing in the state’s Cooperative department and had reported irregularities in different societies involving some officials and political figures.[12] A senior police officer alleged that Mayawati's government was corrupt and had embezzled large amounts of money. Shortly thereafter, he was sent to a psychiatric hospital.[13]

The activists demanded that a law should be framed to protect the whistleblowers, to facilitate the disclosure of information and uncover corruption in government organisations.[8]

Role of Supreme court[edit]

Situations are many where certain persons do not want to disclose the identity as well as the information/complaint passed on by them to the ACB. If the names of the persons, as well as the copy of the complaint sent by them are disclosed, that may cause embarrassment to them and sometimes threat to their lives.

Justice K S Radhakrishnan and Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri, Supreme Court of India[14]

In November 2003, Satyendra Dubey a whistleblower and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) engineer was murdered after he exposed corruption in the construction of highways.[15] As a result, the Supreme Court, in April 2004, pressed the government into issuing an office order, the Public Interest Disclosures and Protection of Informers Resolution, 2004 designating CVC as the nodal agency.[16][17]

In March 2011, the Supreme Court refused to frame guidelines for protection of whistle blowers in the country, saying that it cannot make law. However, the court allowed the petitioners to approach the high court for protection of whistleblowers in a specific case.[18]

In August 2013, a bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Arjan Kumar Sikri ruled that identity of whistleblower can never be revealed to the accused facing prosecution under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.[14][19]

Legislative progress[edit]

Stage Date
Introduction August 26, 2010
Standing Committee referral September 16, 2010
Standing Committee report June 9, 2011
Lok Sabha Passed on 27 December 2011
Rajya Sabha Passed on 21 February 2014
Source:[20]

In June 2011, a parliamentary panel recommended that ministers, the higher judiciary, security organisations, defence and intelligence forces and regulatory authorities be brought under the whistleblowers' protection bill to check corruption and the willful misuse of power.[21] The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on 27 December 2011 [22] The Bill was and by the Rajya Sabha on 21 February 2014..[23] The Bill received the President's assent on 9 May 2014.

Analysis of the legislation[edit]

According to Indian law reports, the bill has faced considerable criticism because its jurisdiction is restricted to the government sector and encompasses only those who are working for the Government of India or its agencies; it does not cover the state-government employees. However, the draft bill aimed at protecting whistleblowers is seen as a welcome move.[20]

The lack of public debate and consultation on the bill seems to indicate the danger of it becoming another "paper tiger". Typically, ministries proposing draft legislation involve a process of public consultation to give the public an opportunity to carefully critique its provisions.[24] In this case, such an opportunity has been denied to the public, which has not gone unnoticed.[24]

The proposed law has neither provisions to encourage whistleblowing (financial incentives), nor deals with corporate whistleblowers; it does not extend its jurisdiction to the private sector (a strange omission, after the fraud at Satyam). The Directorate of Income Tax Intelligence and Criminal Investigation is one of the only agencies empowered for whistle blower protection.

The bill aims to balance the need to protect honest officials from harassment with protecting persons making a public-interest disclosure. It outlines sanctions for false complaints. However, it does not provide a penalty for attacking a complainant.[25]

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) was designated in 2004 to receive public-interest disclosures through government resolution; there have been a few hundred complaints every year. The provisions of the bill are similar to that of the resolution. Therefore, it is unlikely that the number of complaints will differ significantly.[25] The power of the CVC is limited to making recommendations. It cannot impose penalties, in contrast to the powers of the Karnataka and Delhi Lokayuktas.[25]

The bill has a limited definition of disclosure, and does not define victimisation. Other countries (such as the United States, United Kingdom and Canada) define disclosure more widely and define victimisation.[25]

It differs on many issues with the proposed Bill of the Law Commission and the Second Administrative Reform Commission’s report. These include non-admission of anonymous complaints and lack of penalties for officials who victimise whistleblowers.[25]

If enacted, the law to protect whistleblowers will assist in detecting corruption, ensuring better information flow and paving the way for successful prosecution of corrupt individuals through clear and protected processes. However, the public in India have a low level of confidence in fighting corruption because they fear retaliation and intimidation against those who file complaints. Another worry pertains to the delay in disposing of these cases. Without public debate on the provisions of this proposed law, it is clear that people cannot measure its effectiveness when the draft bill comes into force as law.

Central Vigilance Commission Initiative: Blow your whistle[edit]

The Central Vigilance Commission plans to create more awareness about corruption in India. To encourage the fight against corruption, CVC has provided on their website, a "Lodge Complaints Online" [26] portal. The earlier publicized portal Blow your whistle is no longer functional.


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ India, Times of (22 February 2014). Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/After-2-years-and-no-changes-Whistleblowers-Bill-cleared/articleshow/30815449.cms |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  2. ^ "Whistleblowers Protection Bill soon, Govt tells RS". The Times Of India. 10 July 2009. Retrieved 2011-05-20. 
  3. ^ "Cabinet clears whistleblower protection Bill". The Hindu. 10 August 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-20. 
  4. ^ http://www.prsindia.org/uploads/media/Public%20Disclosure/whistle%20blower%20as%20passed%20by%20LS.pdf
  5. ^ "Indian Parliament passes Whistleblowers Protection Bill 2011". IANS. news.biharprabha.com. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2011". Gazette of India. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  7. ^ "A law for those who speak up". The Hindu. May 22, 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  8. ^ a b MGNREGA activist's murder
  9. ^ ""Truth Silenced" pages on Satyendra Dubey Murder case". rediff.com. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  10. ^ "Manjunath case: court commutes death sentence". The Hindu. Dec 12, 2009. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Manjunath murder: Death penalty commuted to life-term". Zee News. Dec 12, 2009. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  12. ^ Whistleblower pays with life
  13. ^ "UP cop calls Mayawati govt corrupt, dumped in mental asylum - The Times of India". indiatimes.com. 5 November 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  14. ^ a b "SC: Can’t tell accused who whistleblower is". Times of India. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  15. ^ BBC 10 December 2003 Veejaypee demands murder enquiry
  16. ^ "Raval: CVC must protect 'bravehearts'". Times of India. Apr 13, 2004. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  17. ^ "India doesn't have a law to protect whistleblower". Times of India. Mar 29, 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  18. ^ "Supreme Court refuses to frame guideline for protection of whistleblowers". DNA. Mar 28, 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  19. ^ "Refusal to furnish complaint will not affect accused's trial: Apex court". Deccan Herald. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  20. ^ a b "The Whistle Blowers Protection Bill, 2011". Prsindia.org. Retrieved 2012-11-15. 
  21. ^ More power for whistleblowers bill
  22. ^ http://www.prsindia.org/uploads/media/Public%20Disclosure/whistle%20blower%20as%20passed%20by%20LS.pdf
  23. ^ "Indian Parliament passes Whistleblowers Protection Bill 2011". IANS. news.biharprabha.com. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  24. ^ a b The Whistleblowers Protection Bill Cleared by the Cabinet
  25. ^ a b c d e Security / Law / strategic affairs
  26. ^ "Lodge Complaints Online". "Lodge Complaints Online", Central Vigilance Commission. (caution: not secure, see referring text)



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