I have attached the e-copy of the Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2011 as notified by the Government of India in the official Gazette. The text is also available on the website of the Department of Personnel and Training at:
As the date of the gazette notification is 12th May, should we not celebrate this day as "Whistleblowers' Day" in India, every year henceforth?
Now that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government will be sworn in any day this week and they have promised accountability as a key measure of governance, we should monitor their actions to protect whistleblowers starting with Mr. Khemka and all others in civil service who have exposed wrongdoing.
Many RTI users, activists, mediapersons and community-level workers for social justice and accountability have been blowing the whistle on wrongdoing and facing the ire of vested interests. The new Government will have to act on its promises of ensuring accountability for wrong doing in government and protect those who expose such wrong doing.
The Supreme Court recognised whistleblowing to the media as a legitimate method of drawing the attention of the authorities and the people to any wrongdoing, when all other options have not worked in the matter of Indirect Tax Practitioners Association vs R K Jain AIR 2011 SC 2234. So this is an added weapon to the whistleblower's arsenal.
Despite notification in the gazette, the WBP Act has not come into force yet. The Central Government has the discretion to notify the operationalisation of different provisions of this law on different dates. The new Government has the task of drafting the Rules for implementing this law on the following specific matters relating to whistleblower protection:
"(a) the procedure for disclosure by writing or appropriate electronic means under sub-section (4) of section 4;
(b) the manner in which and the time within which the discreet inquiry shall be made by the Competent Authority under sub-section (2) of section 5;
(c) the additional matter in respect of which the Competent Authority may exercise the powers of a Civil Court under clause (f) of sub-section (2) of section 7;
(d) the form of annual report under sub-section (1) of section 23;
(e) any other matter which is required to be, or may be, prescribed."
The State Governments, which will also implement this law, have general powers to make Rules for implementing this law within their jurisdiction. No specifics have been mentioned though as in the context of the rule-making power of the Central Government. This speaks volumes about how hurriedly this Bill was passed on the last day of the last session of Parliament even though it was pending in Parliament for three years.
In my email alert sent last week, I had culled out the Bharatiya Janata Party's (primary constituent of the NDA) promises of making governance participatory. One of the promises reads as follows:
"We will actively involve people in policy formulation and evaluation through various platforms."
So the new Government must make the Rules to the WBP Act in a participatory manner if it is to live up to its promise. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) under the Union Ministry of Personnel is the nodal Dept. for implementing this law and might take the lead to draft the Rules. The Central Vigilance Commission may also be involved in this process as it is a competent authority for receiving WB complaints against most authorities in Central Government except the Ministers and MPs. Once the new Ministers are sworn in we will know who will be in charge of the DoPT. Till date the Ministry of Personnel was under the direct charge of the Prime Minister. It remains to be seen if the new Government will continue with this arrangement or alter it.