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Whistleblowing and self-reporting

Whistleblowing
Are whistleblowers protected in your jurisdiction?

Yes, the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act 2011 establishes protective measures for whistleblowers (ie, persons making a public interest disclosure relating to an act of corruption, wilful misuse of power, wilful misuse of discretion or a criminal offence committed or attempted by a public servant). While the whistleblower must disclose his or her identity when making the disclosure, the relevant authorities are statutorily obliged to ensure his or her anonymity and protection from victimisation thereafter. Moreover, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations 2015 require companies listed on a recognised stock exchange in India to devise an effective whistleblower mechanism that enables stakeholders – including individual employees and their representative bodies – to freely communicate their concerns about illegal or unethical practices in such companies.

No legal protection is afforded to whistleblowers who make disclosures in connection with the private sector, although most companies provide protection to such whistleblowers through internal policies and programmes.

Self-reporting
Is it common for leniency to be shown to organisations that self-report and/or cooperate with authorities? If so, what process must be followed?

The Indian anti-corruption laws contain no specific provisions which grant discretion to the relevant authorities to show leniency towards self-reporting organisations or individuals.

However, immunity from prosecution can be granted to a bribe giver under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 if he or she agrees to make a statement against the offence committed by a public servant in any criminal proceeding (ie, the bribe giver’s statement must affirm that he or she offered or agreed to offer a form of gratification). The court may also pardon any person who has been directly or indirectly involved in or privy to an offence on the condition that such person make a full and true disclosure of the circumstances of the offence (within his or her knowledge). Further, the bribe giver or abettor may cooperate with the authorities at any stage of investigation, including at the time of commencement of criminal proceedings.

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