Analysing the Incessant Battlefront: Conflict of Public Interest with Official Secrets ​

Lekshmi Priya L
Advocate (Madras High Court) and Post Graduate student at Tamil Nadu Dr, Ambedkar Law University, India.

Volume III, Issue VI, 2020

The growing consciousness of participatory democracy has led to an increase in the exercise of their fundamental right to information by the citizen through the Right to Information Act. Participatory Democracy’s existence owes to the notions of transparency of Government acts and accountability of public authorities. While the citizens are proactively seeking information from public authorities, the Government is aggressively retaining information under the broad undefined ambit of ‘secrecy’ or ‘confidentiality’ according to the Official Secrets Act. This is where the conflict of public interest of the citizens and protected interests of the Government enters the battlefield of democracy. Public interest is futile, when the security of the Nation is compromised, and safety of public becomes a concern due to such disclosure.

In light of this, the paper examines the areas of conflict under the RTI Act and Official Secrets Act and makes a Comparative study of the existence of Official Secrets Act and freedom of Information in common law countries. With special reference to the misuse of section 5 of the OSA Act, arguments are made against the existence of Official Secrets Act while analysing the views of the judiciary and Central Information Commission on the conflict.

Keywords: Confidentiality, Official Secrets, participatory democracy, public interest, Right to Information.