The woeful state of Whistleblower Protection in India

Proceedings of The International Conference on Research in Social Sciences and Humanities

Year: 2019


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The woeful state of Whistleblower Protection in India

Trupti Rathi, Bindu Ronald and  Lindsay Trotman




Whistleblowers are those who disclose perceived misconduct in organisations.  Whistleblowing is a crucial part of corporate governance, the objective of which is transparency, accountability and integrity in the corporate sector.  Accordingly, the objective of corporate governance is enhanced by a good system to protect whistleblowers.This paper provides a critical analysis of the present day framework in India for the protection of whistleblowers.  This includes the Central Vigilance Commission Act 2003, the Whistleblower Protection Act 2014 and the Whistleblower Protection (Amendment) Bill 2015 (though lapsed). These are found wanting for two reasons.  First, they do not extend to the private sector.  Second, the powers of the Central Vigilance Commission are inadequate.The Companies Act 2013 requires a ‘vigil mechanism’ for directors and employees to report concerns.  This is found wanting because it applies only to listed companies and lacks details needed for effective implementation of a ‘vigil mechanism’.The Listing Agreement (2014) mandates that every listed company establish a vigil mechanism to report concerns about unethical behaviour, actual or suspected fraud, or violation of the company’s code of conduct or ethics policy, but it lacks reference to necessary procedures and fails to protect completely the identity of a whistleblower.This paper also examines major whistleblower cases in India including Satyendra Dubey’s case, Ketan Parekh’s scam, Harshad Mehta’s scam, Manjunath’s case and Prof. Kavita Pandey’s case. These reveal, disturbingly, that some whistleblowers have been killed, victimized, retrenched, sexually harassed or assaulted.The thesis of this paper is that whistleblower protection laws in India are inadequate and undermine good corporate governance.

Keywords: Protection, whistleblower, corporate governance, Central Vigilance Commission, vigil mechanism.