Whistle Blower Policy

Policy 

HFFC Code of Conduct requires its employees to observe high standards of business and personal ethics in conduct of their duties and responsibilities. As employees and representatives of the company, they must practice honesty and integrity in fulfilling their responsibilities and comply with all applicable laws and regulations. This policy governs reporting and investigation of allegations of suspected improper activities. The purpose of the Whistle blower Policy is to enable a person who observes an unethical practice (whether or not a violation of law), to approach a Whistle blower Committee without necessarily informing their supervisors if they choose to do so. The policy provides a framework to promote responsible and secure whistle blowing. It protects employees wishing to raise a concern about serious irregularities within the Company.

Definitions 

  1. “Whistle blower” refers to a person or entity making a disclosure of any unethical activity that they have observed. Whistle blowers could be employees, contractors, contractor’s employees, clients, vendors, internal or external auditors, law enforcement/regulatory agencies or other third parties.
  2. “Whistle blower Committee/ Officer” refers to the committee consisting of a team of senior HFFC personnel who are tasked to assess independently the concerns raised by the whistle blower. Currently Ms Kiran Agarwal Todi is nominated as the Whistle Officer.
  3. “Investigation Committee” refers to the committee consisting of members nominated by the Whistle blower Committee to conduct the actual investigation of the concerns raised by the Whistle blower. A minimum of 2 members would be required to investigate the matter.
  4. “Ethical Behavior” means being in accordance with the accepted principles of right and wrong that govern the conduct of a profession including but not restricted to financial impropriety and accounting malpractices.
  5. “Professional behavior” means exhibiting a courteous, conscientious and generally businesslike manner at the workplace that strives to maintain a positive regard to others while avoiding excessive display of deep feeling.
  6. “Disciplinary Action” means any action that can be taken on the completion of /during the investigation proceedings including but not limiting to a warning, imposition of fine, suspension from official duties or any such action as is deemed to be fit considering the gravity of the matter.
  7. “Protected Disclosure” means a concern raised by a written communication made in good faith that discloses or demonstrates information that may evidence unethical or improper activity. Protected Disclosures should be factual and not speculative in nature.
  8. “Subject” refers to a person or group of persons against or in relation to whom a Protected Disclosure is made or evidence gathered during the course of an investigation under this Policy.

Coverage of Policy 

The Policy covers malpractices and events which have taken place/ suspected to take place involving:

  • Abuse of authority
  • Breach of contract, employee Code of Conduct or Rules
  • Manipulation of company data/records
  • Financial irregularities, including fraud, embezzlement or suspected fraud
  • Criminal offence (e.g. fraud, corruption or theft) committed/ likely to be committed.
  • Pilferation of confidential/propriety information
  • Deliberate violation of law/regulation
  • Wastage/misappropriation of company funds/assets
  • Any other unethical, biased, favored, imprudent event
  • Serious improper conduct (including any kind of harassment)
  • Failure to comply with legal/ regulatory obligations
  • Unlawful gains arising out of company’s resources

Policy should not be used in place of the Company grievance procedures or be a route for raising malicious or unfounded allegations against colleagues.

Guiding Principles

To ensure that this Policy is adhered to, and to assure that the concern will be acted upon seriously, the Company will:

  1. Ensure that the Whistle blower and/or the person processing the Protected Disclosure is not victimized for doing so
  2. Treat victimization as a serious matter, including initiating disciplinary action on such person/(s)
  3. Ensure complete confidentiality
  4. Not attempt to conceal evidence of the Protected Disclosure
  5. Take disciplinary action, if any one destroys or conceals evidence of the Protected Disclosure made/to be made
  6. Provide an opportunity of being heard to the persons involved especially to the Subject

Anonymous Allegations 

Whistle blowers must put their names to allegations as follow-up questions and investigation may not be possible unless the source of the information is identified. Disclosures expressed anonymously will ordinarily NOT be investigated.

Investigation 

  • On receipt of Protected Disclosure or any such allegations reported by the Whistle Blower, the Whistleblower Officer/ Committee shall appropriately and expeditiously investigate all whistle blower reports received. In this regard, the Whistle blower Officer/ Committee may perform all such acts as it may deem fit at its sole discretion, including, the following:
  • to obtain legal or expert view in relation to Protected Disclosure;
  • appoint external agency to assist in investigation;
  • request any officer(s) of the company to provide adequate financial or other resources for carrying out investigation
  • seek explanation or solicit Subject’s (accused)submission on Protected Disclosure or give reasonable opportunity to respond to Subject on material findings contained in investigation report.
  • to call for any information /document and explanation from any employee of the Company or other person(s) as they may deem appropriate for the purpose of conducting investigation.
  • The investigation shall be completed normally within 30 days of the receipt of the Protected Disclosure /any allegations from the whistle blower.
  • The Committee shall have right to outline a detailed procedure for an investigation and may delegate such powers and authorities, as it may deem fit to any officer of the Company for carrying out any investigation.
  • The Subject shall have a duty to co-operate with the investigator and responsibility not to interfere or obstruct with the investigation process.
  • Upon receipt of report, the Whistle Officer shall submit the same along with recommendations to the Management Committee of the Company for Disciplinary Action after providing reasonable opportunity of being heard to the Subject. After considering the report and recommendations as aforesaid, the CEO shall determine and finalize the Disciplinary Action as he may deem fit.

Rights of a subject 

  1. Subjects have right to be heard and the Whistle Officer must give adequate time and opportunity for the subject to communicate his/her say on the matter
  2. Subjects have the right to be informed of the outcome of the investigation and shall be so informed in writing by the Company after the completion of the inquiry/ investigation process

Management Action on False Disclosures 

An employee who knowingly makes false allegations of unethical & improper practices or alleged wrongful conduct shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, in accordance with Company rules, policies and procedures. Further this policy may not be used as a defense by an employee against whom an adverse personnel action has been taken independent of any disclosure of intimation by him and for legitimate reasons or cause under Company rules and policies.

Company’s Powers 

The Company is entitled to amend, suspend or rescind this policy at any time. Whilst, the Company has made best efforts to define detailed procedures for implementation of this policy, there may be occasions when certain matters are not addressed or there may be ambiguity in the procedures. Such difficulties or ambiguities will be resolved in line with the broad intent of the policy. The Company may also establish further rules and procedures, from time to time, to give effect to the intent of this policy and further the objective of good corporate governance.