New Delhi: A Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice and Personnel has recommended bringing members of the Council of Ministers and the higher judiciary under the purview of a Bill which seeks to establish a mechanism to receive complaints regarding allegations of corruption or willful misuse of power.

The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in August, 2010 and is popularly called the Whistle blowers' protection Bill.

In its report submitted to the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, the Parliamentary committee has also recommended bringing the armed forces and security and intelligence agencies under the ambit of the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosures Bill, 2010.

"No organisation of the government should be left out from public scrutiny and accountability provided for in the bill," Committee chairperson Jayanthi Natarajan told reporters here.

She said in its report, the panel has desired that the Ministry of Personnel should consider bringing the members of the Council of Ministers, the judiciary, including the higher judiciary, regulatory authorities and even the corporate within the ambit of the bill by making necessary amendments.

She said the government should consider the provisions of the whistle blowers' protection bill while drafting the Lokpal bill.

Need for foolproof mechanism

Natarajan said the Committee has also recommended that a foolproof mechanism be envisaged to ensure that the identity of the complainant is not compromised with, "at any cost and any level."

On the issue of frivolous complaints, the Committee has rejected a stringent 5-year jail term for such people. It said the punishment should not be so harsh, but has not specified the quantum of punishment. It has also recommended that the punishment should be  “appealable" in a High Court.

Inclusion of witnesses

In its report, the panel has also recommended inclusion of witnesses who support the whistle blower in disclosing cases of corruption.

Amid reports of rampant corruption in centrally-funded schemes, the committee has suggested a mechanism to apply particularly in respect of central schemes when state
authorities fail to take "suitable action."

The proposed legislation also provides for severe punishment to those exposing the identity of people disclosing information.

It provides the Central Vigilance Commission powers of a civil court to hand down harsh penalty to people revealing the identity of whistleblowers.

The Bill, which has provisions to prevent victimisation or disciplinary action against whistleblowers will cover central, state and public sector employees.

The Bill is expected to encourage disclosure of information in public interest and people who expose corruption in government.