Tuesday, December 26, 2006

About whistleblowing

Whistleblowing means speaking out to the media or the public on malpractice, misconduct, corruption, or mismanagement witnessed in an organization.

The Veerappa Moily Commission on Administrative Reforms II has recommended protection to whistleblowers. It advocates that honest and conscientious public servants, privy to information relating to gross corruption, abuse of authority or grave injustice, should be encouraged to disclose in public interest without fear of retribution. In conjunction with the Right to Information Act, a Whistleblowers’ Protection Act can indeed be a potent tool for promoting good and transparent governance in the country.

In the US whistleblowing is encouraged by statute as an ethical duty. In 1980, a code of ethics for government service was unanimously passed by the Congress and singed into law by Ronald Reagan. Passing of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) of 2002 post Enron and WorldCom debacles is another step in that direction.

The US society also approves whistleblowing in a serious way. Look at the celebration of whistleblowing by the Time magazine. It has named three whistleblowers – Sherron Watkins of Enron, Coleen Rowly of the FBI and Cynthia of WorldCom as its “Persons of the Year” for 2002. Whistleblowing has featured in Hollywood films such as Serpico, Silkwood, Marie and The Insider.

Let us hope our Veerappa Moily committee will have its way.

For more details of examples of whistleblowing in US see in today's ET a centre page article by Raghu Dayal.