Bill to amend the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2011 to keep issues of national security out of its purview was introduced in the Lok Sabha today. The introduction of the Whistleblowers Protection (Amendment) Bill 2015 came close on the heels of the Opposition attacking the government for not notifying the bill despite it getting the President’s assent in May 2014.
The amendments to the bill are being carried out with a view to incorporate necessary provisions aimed at strengthening safeguards against disclosures which may prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of the country and security of the state, among other things. While government insists the amendments would address
concerns relating to national security, some activists have claimed that it will dilute the measure.
“This would strengthen the safeguards against disclosures which may prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of the country, security, strategic, scientific or economic interest of the state, relations with a foreign state or leads to incitement of an offence. Safeguard has also been provided in respect of such disclosures which have been exempted under section 8(1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005,” the government said.
In order to give statutory protection to whistleblowers in the country, the Public Interest Disclosures and Protection to Persons making the Disclosures Bill, 2011 was introduced in the Lok Sabha in August, 2010. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha in December 2011, as the Whistle Blowers Protection Bill, 2011. The Rajya Sabha had passed it on February 21 last year.
It had received the assent of the President on May 9 the same year. During the last days of UPA rule, BJP had proposed certain amendments in the bill when it came up for consideration and passage in the Rajya Sabha. One was to bar whistleblowers from seeking information on national security. The Whistleblowers’ Protection Act aims to provide a mechanism for protecting the identity of those who expose corruption.