LAHORE - In a bid to curb corruption and malpractices in the public sector departments, the Punjab government has decided to provide legal cover to official whistleblowers, but the proposed legislation has no provision to protect the interests of a common citizen performing this role in a private organisation or in some other capacity, it has been learnt.

Although the draft law in this regard is still under consideration, but, as per sources, there is little chance of its being made a comprehensive one encompassing all aspects of the subject.

Officials dealing with the subject matter confided to The Nation that during a recent meeting of the committee tasked to prepare the draft law, when some participants suggested that besides giving protection to the official whistleblowers, common citizens should also be given legal cover, a senior bureaucrat rejected the same, saying that the authorities wanted this arrangement only for the official whistleblowers.

“It is common practice among many of the countries to give protection to both the official and unofficial whistleblowers,” said a participant of meeting.

He, however, insisted during the meeting that the true spirit of the law demanded that the common men raising fingers on the wrongdoings of the politicians, legislators, contractors, government employees or others must enjoy the same protection as is being given to the government servants.

A senior government official who was not satisfied with the proposed legislation raised the question that who would provide protection to an honest government contractor if he wanted to expose the corruption of an MNA or some bureaucrat demanding gratification from him in exchange for approving his assigned work.   

A senior officer conditioning anonymity said that Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013 duly promulgated in Punjab also could not serve the purpose as it was vague in many respects. The officials not providing the requisite information were not being punished in Punjab.  

Quoting news reports, he said, the KP bureaucracy, on the other hand, seemed readier to share information compared to its counterparts in Punjab. Punjab Information Commission received hundreds of complaints against the officials of the Punjab government who failed to provide information to the citizens under the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act (RTI) 2013.

He said that the TIP and the NAB, both time and again emphasized the need for true implementation of the RTI Act 2013 besides introducing new legislation on Whistleblowers Protection Laws to improve governance.

Syed Adil Gilani, Advisor TI Pakistan, a couple of weeks ago had said that the Islamabad and the provinces were yet to pass the law regarding protection of the whistleblowers for curbing corruption in the country and bring transparency prerequisite for good governance.