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Report No. 179

(C) Whistle blowers:

Whistle blowers can also play a very important role in providing information about corruption and mal-administration. Public servants working in the same department know better as to who is corrupt in their department but unfortunately, they are not bold enough to convey the said information to higher authorities for fear of reprisals by those against whom complaints are made. If adequate statutory protection is granted, there can be no doubt, that the government will be able to get more information regarding corruption and mal-administration. Such provisions exist in England, Australia, New Zealand and in the United States of America.

Good faith whistle blowers represent the highest ideals of public service and challenge abuses of power. They test loyalty with the highest moral principles but place the country above loyalties to persons, parties or Governments. There is a close connection between whistle blower's protection and the right of employees to disclose corruption or maladministration. Protection of whistleblowing vindicates important interests supporting the enforcement of criminal and civil laws.

This aspect may be called the 'rule of law' concept implied in whistle blowing. Again, whistle blowing can be seen as supporting public interests by encouraging disclosure of certain types of information. This aspect may be called the 'public information' or 'public interest' concept implied in whistle blowing. Further, whistle blowing challenges institutional authority, prerogative and discretion. It also enables and protects employee participation in the decision making process of public institutions.

This aspect may be called 'institutional' or the 'democratic reform' concept implied in whistle blowing laws. Protection of whistle blowers can however be seen as creating a number of risks, such as disruption of the work place, rending of employment relationship, possibility of blackmail and harassment, etc. (see 'State Whistle blower Statutes and the Future of Whistle blower Protection' 33 by Robert G. Vaughn in vol. 51, 1999, Administrative Law Review, Washington College of Law, p. 581).

In England, in the Report of the Nolan Committee on "Standards of Public Life", the importance and the need for 'whistle blowers' has been dealt with in detail. In Para 112 of the Report, it is stated as follows:

"Whistle Blowing:

112. One of the conditions which can lead to an environment in which fraud and malpractice can occur according to the Metropolitan Police, is the absence of a mechanism by which concerns can be brought to light without jeopardizing the informant. The Audit Commission figures (see table 3) show that information from staff is a major contribution to the detection of fraud and corruption in the National Health Service (NHS). Concerned staff were instrumental in uncovering serious irregularities at two colleges of "Further Education". As Public Concern at Work (PCAW), a leading charity in this field, told us in their submission, "if there is a breach of the standards appropriate to a public body, it is likely that the first people to suspect it will be the staff who work there".

Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Informers Back

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