Whistleblowers Protection(Amendment) Act, 2015 ( Important amendments, GS paper 2 ,PRS)

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*The Bill amends the Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2014.

*The Act provides a mechanism for receiving and inquiring into public interest disclosures against acts of corruption, wilful misuse of power or discretion, or criminal offences by public servants.

*The Bill prohibits the reporting of a corruption related disclosure if it falls under any 10 categories of information.These categories include information related to:
(i) economic, scientific interests and the security of India;
(ii) Cabinet proceedings, (iii) intellectual property; (iv) that received in a fiduciary capacity, etc.

*The Act permits disclosures that are prohibited under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), 1923.The Bill reverses this to disallow disclosures that are covered by the OSA.

*Any public interest disclosure received by a Competent Authority will be referred to a government authorised authority if it falls under any of the above 10 prohibited categories. This authority will take a decision on the matter, which will be binding.

Key Issues and Analysis

> The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill states that the 10 prohibited categories are modelled on those under the RTI Act, 2005. However, this comparison may not be appropriate.

>Unlike the RTI Act, disclosures under the Bill are not made public but in confidence to a high level constitutional or statutory authority.With regard to the 10 prohibited categories, the RTI Act allows (i) the public authority to disclose information if he considers it to be in public interest; and (ii) a two stage appeal process if information is not made available. The Bill does not contain such provisions.

>A Competent Authority is required to refer a prohibited disclosure to a government authority for a final decision.

> However, the Bill does not specify the minimum qualifications required or the process of appointment of this authority.Whistleblower laws in other countries also prohibit the disclosure of certain types of information.

>These include information related to national security and intelligence, received in a fiduciary capacity, and any disclosure specifically prohibited by law.


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