Official Secrets Act


Oct 29, 2004
Will India Ever Have ‘The Post’ Moment, With The Official Secrets Act In Place? | Live Law

The Indian counter-part of the said provision of U.S Espionage Act is the Official Secrets Act 1923- a short colonial legislation which reflects imperialistic fervour than constitutional temperance. It criminalizes disclosure of information which is likely to affect sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of state or friendly relation with foreign states’(Section 5). The Act also criminalizes disclosure of information which might be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy(Section 3). As per the interpretation given to the provision by the Supreme Court in Sama Alana Abdulla v. State of Gujarat , the information need not be even ‘secret’, and if it is likely to be useful to an enemy, the offence is said to have been committed. Therefore, there is a lot of subjectivity involved here, as the conviction is based on an arbitrary and uncertain test of information being useful to an enemy. In an article published in the blog ‘Indian Constitutional Law Philosophy’, it is articulated that the constitutional validity of the Official Secrets Act(OSA) is highly doubtful on account of its vagueness, subjectivity and over-breadth in creation of offences. Various incidents in India demonstrate that the OSA has been misused to clip the wings of bona fide press reportage, and Indian Courts are not keen to follow the American example of protecting press freedom when OSA is involved.