Citizens protest against threat to use Official Secrets Act

  1. People protested against the government for threatening to book a journalist under Official secrets Act(OSA) for publishing stories on the Rafale deal.
  2. Government had informed the Supreme Court that documents linked to the Rafale fighter jet deal were photocopied from the defence ministry and newspapers that published these files may have violated the Official Secrets Act.
  3. Official Secrets Act(OSA) is India’s anti espionage (Spy and Secret agent) act enacted in 1923 during the British Rule.It extends to all matters of secrecy and confidentiality in governance in the country.
  4. It broadly deals with two aspects — (a)spying or espionage,covered under Section 3, and (b)disclosure of other secret information of the government covered under Section 5.Secret information can be any official code,password,sketch,plan,model,article,note,document or information.Under Section 5,both the person communicating the information,and the person receiving the information,can be punished.
  5. The disclosure of any information that is likely to affect the (a)sovereignty and integrity of India (b)the security of the State or (c)friendly relations with foreign States, is punishable by this act.
  6. In 2006,the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) recommended that OSA be repealed,and replaced with a chapter in the National Security Act containing provisions relating to official secrets.
  7. In 2015 also,government had set up a committee to look into provisions of the OSA in light of the Right to Information(RTI) Act.It recommended that OSA be made more transparent and in line with the RTI Act.