Despite its enactment with the aim of checking corruption in government offices six years ago, the Whistleblowers' Protection Act 2011 is yet to receive the expected response. Legal practitioners and officials say they know little about the law.
Experts said a well-coordinated campaign should be launched to make people, particularly government officials, aware of the law to motivate them to reveal the corruption that takes place inside their offices. The law ensures protection of their legal rights by concealing their identities.
They observed that the law can play a vital role in checking corruption in both the public and private sectors.
"An effective awareness campaign is needed involving media, particularly broadcast media, to make people aware of the law as government and non-government employees can provide graft related information to the authorities concerned under the act," ACC panel lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan told BSS on Monday.
He said many lawyers and government officials know little about the law, adding: "The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) should make a well-coordinated effort by arranging seminars, symposiums, and meetings, as well as a short drama to inform the people about the law."
ACC spokesman (Deputy Director) Pranab Kumar Bhattacharjee said the national anti-graft agency had received many corruption allegations from government offices, but admitted that the ACC did not file any graft case under the Whistleblowers' Protection Act.
The law empowers a person to disclose information on ministries, divisions, departments or any other government offices, and all kinds of non-government organisations, to the authorities concerned.
As per the law, also known as the Public-Interest Information Disclosure Act (Provide Protection) 2011, no criminal, civil or departmental proceedings can be initiated against a person for disclosing information in the public interest to the authorities, and his or her identity will not be disclosed without his or her consent.
Whistleblowers cannot even be made witness and produced before a court in connection with the criminal or civil cases to be filed after the information is disclosed. The information also cannot be produced before the court as evidence in order to keep the person's identity secret, according to the provisions of the law.
"The Whistleblowers' protection act is being used as a very effective tool to fight corruption in many countries," said Advocate Oliur Rahman Nayon.
"The act will protect information providers from different directorates, departments and ministries and private organisations. This law helps combat institutional corruption, especially big scams," he said.
Experts hoped that the law would help the anti-graft watchdog work on the basis of specific information instead of assumptions, and the flow of accurate information on graft to the commission will increase.