A Relic of Empire: The Enduring Legacy of the Official Secrets Act in India

  • Geetha Lakshmi R.
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  • Geetha Lakshmi R.

    LL.M. student at The Tamil Nadu Dr.Ambedkar Law University, Chennai, India

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India’s Official Secrets Act (OSA), implemented in 1923, stands as a stark reminder of the country’s colonial past. Inherited from British rule, the Act criminalizes any act deemed to aid an enemy nation. While the concept of safeguarding national security through official secrets legislation exists in many countries, India’s OSA carries a unique burden due to its colonial origins. This paper delves into the OSA, exploring its historical development, legal framework, and current implications. By examining the Act’s scope and its impact on individual freedoms, the paper aims to contribute to the ongoing debate about potential reforms. The historical context Is crucial. Early restrictions on information sharing emerged in mid-19th century India through British pronouncements. These measures aimed to control government communication, with officials requiring permission to engage with the press and maintain tight confidentiality. The critical point is that the Indian OSA was not born out of a democratic need for transparency and accountability, but rather from a colonial desire to control information and suppress dissent. This legacy continues to shape debates about the Act’s role in modern India. By comparing and contrasting the OSA with similar legislation in other countries, we can gain valuable insights into the challenges of balancing national security with individual freedoms in a democratic society.


Research Paper


International Journal of Law Management and Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 3, Page 1434 - 1443

DOI: https://doij.org/10.10000/IJLMH.117599

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