Guest Post: India’s Whistleblower Protection Act — An Important Step, But Not Enough

Christine Liu, an associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore’s New York Office, contributes the following guest post:

As Raj noted in his last post, the recent election of Narendra Modi as prime minister of India demonstrates that the Indian population wants change and supports actions against corruption (as do recent polls, such as the Lowy Institute study, which found that 96 percent of Indians believe corruption is holding the country back, and 92 percent believe that reducing corruption should be one of the government’s top priorities). One of the most important obstacles to fighting corruption in India has been the lack of adequate whistleblower protections. Individuals reporting incidents of bribery or corruption faced numerous hurdles, including verbal threats, physical violence, and ostracism. Others encountered workplace retaliation. Confronted with these risks, many potential whistleblowers chose to remain silent.

But there are encouraging signs that this may change. On May 14, 2014, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee cleared the way for the Whistleblowers Protection Act. This action represents a much-needed change from the history of delay surrounding the original bill, which was first introduced in August 2010 and then took years to pass the two Houses of Parliament—it passed in Lok Sabha on December 11, 2011 and in Rajya Sabha on February 21, 2014. The new whistleblower law is a significant achievement. Nonetheless, the law has some important limitations, and there are outstanding concerns about whether the law will be enforced effectively and foster public confidence. Continue reading