Whistleblowing is an act of disclosing information by an employee or any concerned stakeholder of an organization about illegal or unethical conduct within that organization. A Whistle Blower is a person who exposes corruption by informing/complaining about a person or organization engaged in such illicit activity.
In 2001, the Law Commission of India recommended enacting a law to protect Whistle Blowers was necessary to eliminate corruption. It had also drafted a bill to address this issue.
In 2004, the Supreme Court of India, in response to the petition filed after the infamous murder of NHAI official, directed the Central Government to put in place the administrative machinery for acting on complaints from Whistle-Blowers till the enactment of a law. In response, the Government of India in 2004 notified a resolution named: Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Informers Resolution (PIDPIR). This Resolution empowers the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to act on complaints from Whistle Blowers.
In 2007, the Second Administrative Reform Commission, in its report, also recommended enacting a specific law needed to protect Whistle Blowers.
- In August 2010, the Government of India introduced the “Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosure Bill 2010” in the Lok Sabha to establish a mechanism to:
- receive complaints relating to the disclosure of any allegation of corruption or wilful misuse of discretion power against any public servant,
- inquire into such disclosures,
- provide adequate safeguards against victimization of the persons making such complaints.
- This Bill was referred to the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee.
- After considering the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, the Cabinet, in its meeting held in December 2011, approved the official amendments to the Bill, which included renaming it as The Whistle Blowers Protection Bill 2011.
- The Bill was finally passed in 2014 and became The Whistle Blowers Protection Act 2014.
Whistle-Blowers Protection Act 2014
The Salient features of the Whistle-Blowers Protection Act 2014 are as follow:
- The Act provides a mechanism to protect the identity of whistleblowers. People who expose the irregularities by public functionaries or corruption in Government can now be free of any fear of victimization.
- As per the Act, a person can make public interest disclosure on corruption before a competent authority (Central Vigilance Commission at present). The Government, by notification, can also appoint any other body for receiving such complaints about corruption.
- The Act provides for a System that encourages the people to disclose information about corruption or the wilful misuse of power by public servants, including ministers.
- The Act also lays down the punishment of up to 2 years in prison and a fine up to Rs. 30,000 for false/frivolous complaints.
- The Act does not apply to the Special Protection Group.
- The Act says that the person making the disclosure shall provide a personal declaration stating that he reasonably believes the information disclosed by him and the allegation contained therein is substantially true.
- As per the Act, the person made disclosures in writing or by email message following the procedure as may be prescribed and contain full particulars and be accompanied by supporting documents or other material.
- However, no action should be taken by the competent authority on a disclosure if it does not indicate the identity of the complainant or public servant or if the identity of the complainant or public servant is found to be incorrect.