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Official Secrets Act

Topics Covered: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges.

Official Secrets Act:


Delhi journalist arrested under Official Secrets Act for passing on information such as the deployment of Indian troops on the border to Chinese intelligence officers.

About the Official Secrets Act:

Originally enacted during the time of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905.

  • One of the main purposes of the Act was to muzzle the voice of nationalist publications.
  • The Indian Official Secrets Act (Act No XIX of 1923) replaced the earlier Act, and was extended to all matters of secrecy and confidentiality in governance in the country.

Ambit of the Act:

It broadly deals with two aspects:

  1. Spying or espionage, covered under Section 3.
  2. Disclosure of other secret information of the government, under Section 5.

Is “secret information” defined?

The Act does not say what a “secret” document is. It is the government’s discretion to decide what falls under the ambit of a “secret” document.

  • It has often been argued that the law is in direct conflict with the Right to Information Act, 2005.
  • However, please note that if there is any inconsistency in the Official Secret Act with regard to furnishing of information, it will be superseded by the RTI Act.
    • But, under Sections 8 and 9 of the RTI Act, the government can still refuse information.


Prelims Link:

  1. Overview of Official Secrets Act.
  2. Key provisions.
  3. Ambit of the Act.
  4. Official Secrets Act vs RTI.

Sources: Indian Express.