New Delhi, Jan 1: The government plans to amend the Whistleblowers' Protection Act to keep the issues of national security and sovereignty out of its ambit. As the original legislation passed by Parliament earlier this year does not have the provision to safeguard against disclosures affecting sovereignty of the country, the Act has not been brought into force so far.
After coming to power, the Narendra Modi government had decided against implementing the Whistleblowers' Act till the necessary amendments on national security and sovereignty are brought in.
After back-channel talks, the UPA government had agreed to the amendments. But UPA floor managers had requested BJP not to press for it during the bill's debate in the Upper House as an amended bill will have to be reverted to Lok Sabha for its nod, which was not feasible as Parliament's session was concluding soon.
The then UPA government had planned to bring an ordinance to carry out the amendments but the plan had not materialised. While the bill was passed by Lok Sabha in 2011, it could be cleared by Rajya Sabha only on February 21 this year.
"As the Bill was taken up on the last day of the last session of the 15th Lok Sabha, the official amendments to the bill (aimed at safeguarding against disclosures affecting sovereignty and integrity of India, security of state) were not moved.
The proposed amendments are of crucial nature...," Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha last month. The Whistleblowers' Protection Act, which provides a mechanism for protecting the identity of those who expose corruption, got assent of the President in May 2014.
But the Act has not been brought into force pending amendments. Another Bill is pending before a Parliamentary Standing Committee to correct a 'patent error' in the Whistleblowers Act.
Through the Repealing Bill aimed at weeding out obsolete laws, the government also seeks to amend the error committed by the Law Ministry during the passage of the Whistleblowers Bill.
While the Bill became an Act in May this year, it is called the 'Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2011' instead of '2014'. Repealing Bills are often used to carry out corrections in Acts.