A Bill to set 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 Rajya Sabha on Friday.
The Whistleblowers’ Protection Bill also seeks to provide for “adequate protection to persons reporting corruption or wilful misuse of discretion which causes a demonstrable loss to the government, or commission of a criminal offence by a public servant.”
The Bill sets forth the procedure for inquiring into the disclosures and provides for safeguards against victimisation. At the same time, it provides punishment for false or frivolous complaints.
In his reply, Minister of State for Personnel V. Narayanasamy said the law would supplement the RTI Act in checking corruption.
He said some members sought to bring amendments. However, since it was the last day of the session, he was not pushing them as the Bill would lapse. “But appropriate steps will be taken to address their concerns through constitutional methods in 10 days.”
The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in 2011 and was taken up by the Rajya Sabha in 2012. However, it could not be passed because of the death of Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.
Responding to a suggestion that steps be taken to protect those who had blown the whistle on corruption prior to the passage of the Bill, Mr. Narayanasamy said the government had already brought a resolution in 2004, empowering the Central Vigilance Commission to protect the whistleblowers.
The definition of ‘disclosure’ has also been amended to include wilful misuse of power or discretion, which leads to a demonstrable loss to the government or a demonstrable gain to a public servant or any third party. The definition of competent authority to which a complaint can be made has also been expanded.Mr. Narayanasamy said the Centre would write to the Jammu and Kashmir government for enactment of a similar law, after Karan Singh of the Congress made the suggestion. The Bill does not cover the State due the special status enjoyed by it.