What is Whistleblower protection Law?
A whistleblower is defined as someone who exposes wrong doing, fraud, corruption or mismanagement. In many cases, this could be a person who works for the government who would report misconduct within the government or it could an employee of a private company who reports corrupt practices within the Company. The law that governments enact to protect such persons who help to expose corruption is called a whistleblower protection law.
Does India have whistleblower protection law?
No, at present India does not have any law to protect whistleblowers, though a Bill to do so is in the pipeline. The issue of protection for whistleblowers caught the attention of the entire country when National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) engineer Satyendra Dubey was killed after he wrote a letter to the office of Prime Minister A B Vajpayee detailing corruption in the construction of highways. In the letter, he had asked specifically that his identity be kept secret. Instead, the letter was forwarded to various concerned departments without masking Dubeys identity. Dubeys murder led to a public outcry at the failure to protect him. As a result, in April 2004, the Supreme Court pressurized the Government intol issuing an office order the Public Interest Disclosures and Protection of Informers Resolution, 2004 designating the CVC as the nodal agency to handle complaints on corruption. However, over a year later Manjunath Shanmugham, an IIM graduate and a sales manager of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), was murdered on November 19, 2005 for exposing the racket of adulteration of petrol and the mafia behind it.
What is the proposed Law?
The Public Interest Disclosure (Protection of Informers) Bill, 2009 was prepared by the Department of Personnel and Training(DoPT). As per the draft law, any person can make a complaint of corruption of disclosure against any central government employee or central government backed institution to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). The CVC, which would be designated as the competent authority for complaints, would have the powers of a Civil Court,. Including powers to summon any body, order police investigation and provide security to the Whistleblower. The CVC would not reveal the identity of the complainant but would have the authority to ignore complaints of vexatious or frivolous nature.
Do other countries have similar laws to protect Whistleblowers?
Several countries have already put in place laws to protect Whistleblowers or are in the process of doing so. However, the level of protection and the way in which the law operates differs from country to country. For instance, the US was one of the earliest to have the Whistleblowers Protection Act of 1989 while UK has the Public Interest Disclosures Act of 1998 and Norway has a similar law in place since January 2007.