Accused cannot be told who the whistle blower is, rules SC

Accused cannot be told who the whistle blower is, rules SC

The Apex Court has ruled that identity of persons who tip off anti-corruption agencies about corrupt deals of bureaucrats cannot be revealed to the accused facing prosecution under Prevention of Corruption Act.

The verdict has come in a matter of the Anti-Corruption Bureau of Maharashtra which investigated a case of disproportionate assets against a public servant on the basis of a complaint filed by unknown person and charge sheeted the accused. The accused requested that a copy of the original complaint to be produced in the court as well as the name of the person who had sent that complaint.

The Bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and A K Sikri rejected his plea and said that the accused was not prejudiced by non-disclosure of the name of the person who sent the complaint and the original copy of the complaint received by the Anti-Corruption Bureau.

The Bench said what is important is that it was a complaint given by some person to the Bureau which triggered the investigation. "Thus, this complaint simply provided information to the ACB and is not the foundation of the case or even the FIR," it said.

The Bench, while dismissing the petition, said, "We are of the opinion that non-supply of the complaint or contents thereof, do not, at all, violate the principle of fair trial. The said complaint has no relevancy in the context of this prosecution and in no manner, it would prejudice the petitioner."

As of August 2013, India does not have a law to protect whistleblowers. However, as part of a drive to eliminate corruption in the country's bureaucracy and issues related to public interest disclosure, a bill known as the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosures Bill, 2010 was introduced by the Central Government in 2010. In December 2011, Lok Sabha passed the bill by renaming it as the ‘Whistle Blowers Protection Bill, 2011. The Bill is pending approval in Rajya Sabha. The Bill provides for safeguards against victimisation of the person making disclosure on any allegation of corruption or wilful misuse of power or wilful misuse of discretion against any public servant. It must be noted that the Bill has faced considerable criticism because its jurisdiction is restricted to the government sector and encompasses only those who are working for the Government of India or its agencies.