A Bill which seeks to provide for setting up a regular mechanism to encourage persons to disclose information on corruption or wilful misuse of power by public servants, including Ministers, was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday night.
The Whistleblowers' Protection Bill, 2011, also seeks to provide “adequate protection to persons reporting corruption or wilful misuse of discretion which causes demonstrable loss to the government or commission of a criminal offence by a public servant.”
While the measure sets out the procedure to inquire into the disclosures and provides adequate safeguards against victimisation of the whistleblower, it also seeks to provide punishment for false or frivolous complaints.
Accepting some key recommendations of a Parliamentary Committee which scrutinised the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosures Bill, 2010, the government had moved amendments, cleared by the Union Cabinet recently. One of them was renaming the Bill.
SPG out of Bill
A major amendment cleared by the Cabinet is the inclusion of Ministers, MPs, defence services, intelligence agencies, bank officials and PSUs under the ambit of the bill. The Special Protection Group (SPG) has been kept out of the ambit of the Bill.
One of the recommendations of the Committee to include higher judiciary (Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts) has been rejected.
The definition of “disclosure” has also been amended to include wilful misuse of power or wilful misuse of discretion which leads to demonstrable loss to the government or demonstrable gain to the public servant or any third party.
The definition of competent authority to which a complaint can be made has also been expanded.
Keywords: Whistleblowers' Protection Bill