New Delhi: A bill for setting up a regular mechanism to encourage persons to disclose information on corruption or wilful misuse of power by public servants, including ministers, was moved in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
    
The Whistle-blowers' Protection Bill, 2011, already approved by the Lok Sabha, was moved by Minister of State in PMO V Narayansamy with a small amendment under which matters impacting national security, sovereignty and integrity of the country have been kept out of the ambit of the bill.
    
Narayansamy said matters related to corruption and human rights violations in the defence forces and intelligence agencies will also be covered by the bill. The Special Protection Group has been exempted from the Bill in view of the sensitive security matters.
    
He said the Bill aims to provide security to whistle blowers, a number of whom including Satyendra Dubey have been harassed.
    
The Minister said the bill also provides for punishment for disclosing the identity of the whistle blower.     

The Bill seeks to provide "adequate protection to persons reporting corruption or wilful misuse of discretion which causes demonstrable loss to the government or commission of a criminal offence by a public servant."
    
While the measure sets out the procedure to inquire into the disclosures and provides adequate safeguards against victimisation of the whistle-blower, it also seeks to provide punishment for false or frivolous complaints.
    
Narayansamy said as per the provisions of the Bill, before closing any complaint of corruption, the competent authority will have to discuss the matter with the complainant.

After the passage of the bill in the Upper House, it would travel back to the Lower House in view of the amendments.
    
Ravishankar Prasad (BJP) said enactment of the bill will add strength to the accountability process in the country.
    
He urged the Government to allow a proper debate on the important issue.
    
Prasad sought to know from the Government as to whether the Bill would apply to the corrupt practices in the private sector also as there were many public-private partnerships these days.
    
The BJP MP said he did not agree with the perception that interventions in administration in form of RTI or whistle blowers' bill would "impede growth".
    
Referring to the "big ticket" 2G, coal block and other scams where third parties had a big role to play, Prasad demanded they should also be included in the Bill.
    
Pointing to corruption cases in the Armed forces, he also suggested bringing them under the ambit of the Bill "so that bonafide officers could register their complaints" though with certain "limitations".
    
Shantaram Naik (Cong) felt that a clear distinction should be made between a pure complaint and a frivolous complaint. The burden on the complainant on producing evidence to support his complaint should also be limited as he could be asked to produce on prime-facie evidence.

"The Bill should also spell out measures in cases where the complaints are not acted upon", he said.    

Expressing concern over growing number of tax defaulters and the huge loss to the nation, Tapan Sen (CPI-M) demanded that matters of tax administration should also be brought under the ambit of the Bill. Veer Singh (BSP) also supported the Bill.

(Agencies)

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