Speaking without fear: Whistleblowers’ Protection Bill, 2011

One of the key legislations initiated by the government to tackle corruption
is the Whistleblowers’ Protection Bill, 2011, tabled in the Rajya Sabha on
August 14. The Lok Sabha had already passed the bill in December 2011, along
with the Lokpal bill.

Whistleblowing is the act of disclosing information by an employee or a
stakeholder on illegal or unethical conduct within an organisation. Currently,
whistleblowers may make a complaint against a Central government employee to the
Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which can then conduct an inquiry and
recommend appropriate action against the guilty to the head of the organisation.
This mechanism was established in 2004 through a government notification, which
was issued on the direction of the Supreme Court after the murder of Satyendra
Dubey, a whistleblower. Over the years, various committees have recommended that
a law be enacted to protect whistleblowers. In 2001, the Law Commission of India
drafted a bill on the subject. In 2007, the second Administrative Reforms
Commission (ARC) recommended that a law be passed to shield informants from
retribution. India is also a signatory to the UN Convention against Corruption,
which includes provisions for protecting whistle-blowers.

The whistleblowers’ bill sets up a mechanism to receive complaints of
corruption, wilful misuse of power or a criminal offence committed by a
government employee. It empowers the CVC and state vigilance commissions (SVCs)
to receive disclosures from whistleblowers, and includes provisions to protect
them from victimisation. The matter was referred to the Standing Committee on
Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice.

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