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Sansad TV: Acts & Facts- The Whistleblowers Protection Act

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Introduction:

An Act to establish a mechanism to receive complaints relating to disclosure on any allegation of corruption or wilful misuse of power or wilful misuse of discretion against any public servant and to inquire or cause an inquiry into such disclosure and to provide adequate safeguards against victimisation of the person making such complaint and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.

Whistleblowers:

  • A whistle-blower is a person who comes forward and shares his/her knowledge on any wrongdoing which he/she thinks is happening in the whole organisation or in a specific department.
  • A whistle-blower could be an employee, contractor, or a supplier who becomes aware of any illegal activities.
  • Whistleblowing refers to calling attention to wrongdoing happening in an organization.
  • Whistleblowing has to do with ethics because it represents a person’s understanding, at a deep level, that an action his or her organization is taking is harmful—that it interferes with people’s rights or is unfair or detracts from the common good.

Legislations in India:

  • The government introduced the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection Of Informers (PIDPI)Resolution for the logging of complaints against alleged corruption or misuse of office by a government officer or department.
  • The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)was designated as the agency to administer complaints, which it continues to routinely route to its relevant section after masking the name of the whistleblower.
  • Whistleblowers Protection Actis aimed at providing a legislative route for people to file complaints on alleged corruption and misuse of office by public servants.
  • The act has not come into force, and the Rules for it have not been finalised.

Ethical perspective:

  • The ethics of whistleblowing is a tricky matter. Whistle-blowing brings two moral values, fairness and loyalty, into conflict.
  • In the case where a company does serious harm through its service or product, the disclosure of such information for the sake of public constitute the ground for an understanding that takes whistleblowing as an ethical behavior.

The situations where whistleblowing is morally justified:

  • Whenever and wherever the product/service of the firm will cause considerable harm to the public.
  • Whenever an employee feels serious threat or harm to him or anybody he should report to the firm.
  • If an immediate boss does not care for report (whistle blowing) the employee should go up to highest level to present his case.

Demerits of whistleblowing:

  • The world, government, corporates and even society to an extent do not like whistle-blowers and some countries go so far as to call them ‘traitors’
  • The case of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange of Wikileaks proves the point
  • Whistle-blowers face legal action, criminal charges, social stigma, and termination from any position, office, or job.
  • Vindictive tactics to make the individual’s work more difficult and/or insignificant, assassination of character, formal reprimand, and difficult court proceedings

Conclusion:

  • A good civil servant would adhere to the foundational principles and fight against corrupt practices in a pragmatic way as the situation demands.
  • Whistleblowing is an ethical behavior because in an environment that supports whistleblowers through encouraging self-regulation and accountability, management can ensure that the business activities are protected from unethical exercises.
  • Whistle blowing is a great tool in organization to avoid unlawful activities and it is morally required under some conditions