The Whistleblowers Protection bill has been passed by the Union Cabinet on August 9, 2010. The bill is officially known as the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosure Bill, 2010. The proposed Indian law intends to protect the whistleblowers, facilitate the disclosure of information and uncover corruption and deceptive practices that exist in government organizations. To find out who a whistleblower is, read here.
Indian Law: Key Features of the Whistleblowers Protection Bill
Some of the key features of the proposed Indian law are as follows:
- It will protect the whistleblowers from any discrimination or victimization in their workplace.
- It provides for concealing the identity of a citizen who discloses information about the misuse of power and money. Those who reveal the identity of the whistleblower will be held liable and penalized, by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
- The offenders will be liable for imprisonment up to 3 years and a fine up to Rs.50, 000.
- There will be penalization in case of delays in response, under the Right to Information Act. A fine of Rs.250 will be imposed for every day of delay beyond the set deadline.
- There will be penalization for officials who try to mislead the CVC.
- The bill provides for addressing complaints against public sector employees and employees of the Central and the State Government.
- The bill also ensures the honest government officials are not harassed in anyway but those individuals who file false complaints and charges will be liable for imprisonment up to 2 years and fine up to Rs.30, 000.
Indian Law: Criticism on the Whistleblowers Protection Bill
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 any of its agencies. It does not cover the employees of State Governments. The draft Bill aimed at protecting whistleblowers is a welcomed move. Given the fact that this bill, if it becomes law, is a very important legislation, the lack of public debate and consultation on the Bill seems to indicate the danger of it becoming another ‘paper tiger.’ Typically, the Ministries that propose draft legislations involve an elaborate process of public consultation to give the public a fair opportunity to criticize and scrutinize the provisions carefully. In this case, such an opportunity has been denied to the public and there is considerable criticism about it.
No doubt, the proposed law to protect whistleblowers will assist to detect corruption, ensure better information flow and pave the way for successful prosecution of corrupt individuals through clear and protected processes. However, the public in India have poor levels of confidence in fighting corruption because they fear retaliation and intimidation against those who dare to make complaints. Another worry pertains to the delay in disposing off these cases. Without public debate on the provisions of this proposed law, it is clear that there is no way for people to measure its effectiveness when the draft bill comes into force as law.