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Official Secrets Act 1923

A comprehensive document relating to official secrets and defines a number of offences The act is aimed at maintaining the security of the state against leakage of secret information and deals with offences like spying and wrongful miscommunication of secret information

The government, whose administrative culture is secrecy, has an internal system of dividing its documents into two categories: Classified and Non-Classified The classified documents are considered secrets under various statutes, such as Top Secret, Secret, Confidential and Restricted personal-note for publication Laws against printing of classified documents are understandable in relation to certain areas like defence and security of the country. But, the Official Secrets act prohibits publication or any communication of any information, which may be directly or indirectly useful to the enemy

The Official Secrets act 1923 broadly has two parts


One relating to spying for the enemy (Section 3 and 4) The other relates to unauthorized communication of any other secrets official code or pass words or any sketch, plan, model, article, note, document or information (Section 5)

Salient features of the Act: Section 3: Penalties for spying 1. If any person for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the state Approaches, inspects, passes over or is in the vicinity of or enters any prohibited place OR Makes any sketch, plan, model or note which is calculated to be or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy OR Obtains, collects, records or publishes or communicates to any person such sketch etc.

Section 4 : Communications with foreign agents to be evidence of commission of certain offences Section 5: Wrongful communication etc. of information

In a prosecution for an offence punishable under section 3 (1) of the act, with the The punishment for spying in relation to countrys defence is upto 14 yrs

In India, it has been demanded that Section 5 of the official secrets Act which inhibits free reporting should be done away with

It prescribes a punishment with imprisonment upto five yrs or fine with both for a person who voluntarily receives or communicates any official secrets

The law does not recognize the fact that it may be in the public interest to publish certain information which, in the opinion of the authorities, should not be revealed
Thus the clash of public interest i.e. the publics right to an open government and the govts need to secrecy