Whistle blowing means calling attention to wrongdoing that is occurring within an organization. The term “Whistle-blowing” means to blow a whistle in front of the public revealing information related to activities deemed to be illegal, fraudulent or committing ethical transgression.
Example1: Panama paper leak disclosing information about the tax evasions taken up by several rich personalities across the globe.
Example2: The death of Satyendra Dubey in Gaya for his anti-corruption stance in a highway-project.
Whistle blowing has to do with ethics because it represents a person’s understanding, at a deep level, that an action his or her organization is taking is harmful—that it interferes with people’s rights or is unfair or detracts from the common good Whistle blowing also calls upon the virtues, especially courage, as standing up for principles can be a punishing experience.
Legal Framework for Whistle-blowing in India:
The Companies Act, 2013 also makes it mandatory to set up an audit committee to investigate whistle-blower complaints.
The Whistle-blower Protection Act, 2014 was enacted to enable any person to disclose to a Competent Authority, acts of corruption or wilful misuse of power or discretion, or criminal offences by a public servant. The act also provides adequate safeguards against the victimization of the person making such complaints. But The Whistle-Blowers Protection Act, 2014 has not come into force, and the Rules for it have not been finalized.
Policy measures to strengthen the protection mechanism to safeguard the whistle-blower
1. Robust Whistle-blower protection scheme: The reality of human interaction is that we often suspect that when we report, we’ll be punished. Hence the law should be designed to reduce or nullify any kind of fear.
2. Competent Authority: To whom the information is disclosed must be an independent constitutional office headed by an individual with highest probity.
3. Moral courage is hard, and in the moment it is far easier to be complicit. This is related to a psychological construct termed pluralistic ignorance. To overcome this, the leaders should lead by example. The second thing is to promote the idea that while organizations care about favorable outcomes, the process is even more important. Case Study: The recent Wells Fargo scandal is a case in point. Employees were getting the clear message that the company didn’t care that its sales goals were unreasonable. Goals were to be met even if it meant signing up customers to new accounts without their consent or knowledge.
4. Awareness about the law and the protection available: Most people who perceive that there is some wrongdoing often do not know the specific law that would apply.
5. Reward Scheme: To incentivise the culture of whistle-blowing and enforces norms and promoting ethical behavior,
6. In a potential whistleblower protection situation, there is the need to protect not only the staff member alleging retaliation but also the rights of the accused official, ensuring the fairness and transparency of the whole procedure. It is especially important in such a sensitive situation to strictly follow the rules of natural justice and due process.
The Whistleblower’s Dilemma: Do the Risks Outweigh the Benefits? The employee must make the ethical decision of whether there is in fact wrongdoing, and whether the wrongdoing is so bad that it outweighs any duties of loyalty they have to the organization on the ethical scale.