Q4(b). There is a view that the official secrets act is an obstacle to the implementation of the Rights to Information act. Do you agree with the view? Discuss (150 words) (10 marks)
The Official Secrets Act was enacted in 1923 and was retained after Independence. The law, applicable to government servants and citizens, provides the framework for dealing with espionage, sedition and other potential threats to the integrity of the nation. If guilty, a person may get up to 14 years of imprisonment, a fine or both.
OSA had become a contentious issue after the implementation of the Right to Information Act because it does not define “secret”. Hence, a public servant may deny any information terming it a “secret” when asked under the RTI Act.
The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (SARC) suggested that OSA originated in the colonial climate of mistrust of people and the primacy of public officials in dealing with the citizens has created a culture of secrecy. Under OSA, confidentiality became the norm and disclosure an exception. Thus, it contradicts the principles of the RTI Act.
Hence, the OSA in the present day has become an obstacle to the implementation of the RTI Act. It needs to be amended to synchronise with the RTI Act. (173 words)