ISLAMABAD: In a bid to encourage people to identify wrongdoing, the government is considering presenting before parliament a bill that will shield whistleblowers and all those who report immoral or illegal practices. The basic idea of the bill is borrowed from neighbouring India.
“Legislation for protection of whistleblowers is on the cards. The government is introducing a bill that seeks protection of the life and property of anyone providing information about corruption and/or any step that endangers the public,” said Law Secretary Justice (retd) Raza Khan.
Speaking before the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice and Human Rights, he said the ministry of law, justice and human rights, after finalising the draft, has sent the proposed piece of legislation to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“Premier Nawaz has directed us to get the cabinet’s approval before we present it [Whistleblowers Protection Bill 2015] before parliament,” he told the panel.
Commenting on the proposed bill, the committee’s chairman Javed Abbasi said such legislation will help people to lift the lid on corrupt practices in private and public sectors.
Officials, who prepared the proposed draft of the bill, told The Express Tribune that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had given their input on the proposed legislation.
In a letter, NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman suggested that government may promulgate ‘Whistleblowers Protection Act’ to prevent corruption in the country, said NAB’s spokesperson Nawazish Ali.
He said under the UN Convention against Corruption, such legislation on whistleblowers’ protection is obligatory.
Bill seeking ban on alcohol for non-Muslims deferred
Meanwhile, the panel deferred a bill seeking ban on the consumption of alcohol by non-Muslims.
The panel has invited members of minority communities for their input to further discuss the bill. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Senator Hafiz Hamdullah had moved the bill in Senate.
Panel rejects bill seeking omission of presidential immunity
Further, the committee rejected another bill, seeking to omit clause (2) of Article 248 of the Constitution, which provides immunity to the president and the governor from criminal proceedings in any court during their service period.
As the mover of the bill, Senator Hamdullah, refused to withdraw the bill, Senators Saeed Ghani and Ayesha Raza voted against it. “Debate on this bill will open a new Pandora’s box,” observed Senator Javed Abbasi.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2015.