Whistle-blowers bill smoothly sails through Senate

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ISLAMABAD, Oct 24 (APP):The Public Interest Disclosures Bill, 2017 aimed at providing protection to whistle-blowers in corruption cases on Tuesday smoothly sailed through Senate of Pakistan.
The bill was piloted by Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid in the House. Speaking in the House, the minister said the legislation would help eliminate corruption from the government departments. He said it was also part of the manifesto of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz to eliminate corruption and the government has also zero tolerance for corruption.
He said he bill was aimed at providing protection to the person who would point out any corruption or wrongdoing in any department or office.
He said the proposed law was in accordance with the international conventions relating to corruption that also recognised the importance of having a law for the protection of whistle-blowers.
Under the proposed law, any person may make a public interest disclosure before the “competent authority” which can be the respective head of the organisation.
After receiving the complaint, the head of the organisation “shall conduct a preliminary inquiry into the disclosure to ascertain the identity and credibility of the complainant.”
Under Section 6 of the bill, disclosure cannot be made on a number of matters, including those which may affect the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan, security, strategic or economic interests of the country and relations with foreign states.
The statement of objects and reasons of the bill says that the modern day economic crimes including money-laundering, fraud, embezzlement, kickbacks, commissions and other forms of corruption and corrupt practices have become increasingly complex and therefore, difficult to investigate and prosecute. “Persons disclosing information relating to the economic crimes in the public interest (also called whistle-blowers) are often subjected to retaliation in the form of discrimination, intimidation, abuse, unjust disciplinary action, including dismissal and even threats of physical harm to them and their families”, it further said.
“Protection of persons making such public interest disclosures, by reporting in good faith acts of corruption and other wrongdoing and illegal activities, is integral to efforts to effectively combat corruption, promote public section integrity and accountability and support a clean working environment.”
The National Assembly had also already passed the bill. Meanwhile, Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani referred two bills including the Auditor-General (Functions, Powers and Terms and Conditions of Service) (Amendment) Bill, 2017 and the Pakistan Tobacco Board (Amendment) Bill, 2017 to the concerned standing committees for further deliberation.
The bills were moved by Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid and Minister for Commerce and Textile Muhammad Pervaiz Malik in the House.
Minister for Law Zahid Hamid on behalf of Minister for Finance Mohammad Ishaq Dar laid the Annual Report for the Year 2016017 of the Central Board of Directors of the State Bank of Pakistan on the state of the Economy as required under section 9A(2) of the SBP Act, 1956.