Legal Aid

The Official Secrets Act 1923

The Official Secrets Act 1923

Recently a Delhi based Journalist was held for passing secret information to China. This arrest brought OSA in news in the  present time. This Officials Secrets Act has its base in the British colonial era. It was brought in with the main objective of gagging the voice of a large numbers of the newspapers that had come up in several languages, and which were opposing the Raj’s policies.

A strategic affairs analyst and two more– a 30- year-old Chinese woman and her “Nepalese accomplice” has been arrested by the Delhi Police – under the Official Secret Act (OSA). The police said that Rajeev Sharma the analyst, was passing on information to Chinese intelligence officers and those information was such as the deployment of Indian troops on the border. The other two have been arrested for allegedly “supplying him (Rajeev Sharma) huge amounts of money routed through hawala channels for conveying sensitive information to Chinese intelligence”

Passing on information related to development of Indian troops on the border amid the stand-off between troops of IndiaIndian Army and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of People’s of China at the line of actual control (LAC) is a crime and under Official Secret Act (OSA) person or group of people are arrested. .

Official Secrets Act :-

Official Secret Act (OSA) has its base in the British colonial era. The original version was The Indian Official Secrets Act (Act XIV), 1889. This was brought in with the main objective of gagging the voice of a large numbers of  the newspapers that had come up in several languages, and were opposing the Raj’s policies, building political consciousness and facing police crackdowns and prison terms. It was amended and made more stringent in the form of The Indian Official Secrets Act, 1904, during Lord Curzon’s tenure as Viceroy of India. In 1923, a newer version was notified. The Indian Official Secrets Act (Act No XIX of 1923) was extended to all matters of secrecy and confidentiality in governance in the country.

It broadly deals with two aspects — spying or espionage, covered under Section 3, and disclosure of other secret information of the government, under Section 5. Secret information can be any official code, password, sketch, plan, model, article, note, document, or information. Under Section 5, of Indian Constitution both the person communicating or giving the information and the person who is receiving or taking the information can be punished.

So in simple/other word we can understand this as The Official Secrets Act 1923 is India’s anti-espionage act held over from the British colonial period. It states clearly that actions which involve helping an enemy state against India are strongly condemned. It also states that one cannot approach, inspect, or even pass over a prohibited government site or area like an electrical substation. According to this Act, helping the enemy state can be in the form of communicating a sketch, plan, model of an official secret, or of official codes or passwords, to the enemy.

 

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