GS Paper IV Mains 2019 Question Analysis

  • There is a view that the Official secrets act is an obstacle to the implementation of Right to Information Act. Do you agree with the view? Discuss.

Mains Assignment Question

There is a view that the Official secrets act is an obstacle to the implementation of Right to Information Act. Do you agree with the view? Discuss.(150 Words)

Subjects : Constitution, Polity & Governance

Answer Approach :
  • Introduction: Contradiction between Right to Information and Official Secrets Act
  • Body: Recent developments in terms of ruling of the Supreme Court
  • Conclusion: Balance way forward with certain recommendation.

Divya .

Official secrets act was introduced in 1923 for protecting sensitive documents to get in public domain. It is often accused to be get into public domain. It is often accused to be interfering in implementation of RTI.

official secrets as an obstacle to RTI—

  1. Protect corrupt officials- by keeping information secret the act might hide corruption.
  2. threat to transparency and accountability- in name of secrecy !this might threat the very credentials of democracy.
  3. Misuse of the act- sec(5) of the act provides for punishment and this provision has often been used against the journalists and RTI activists.
  4. Threaten RTI functioning - the act goes against right to freedom of speech and expression.

The official secrets act deals with espionage and sedition helps in protecting confidential information (military operation, spying)but because of its contradictions with RTI there has been demands to keep it under National security act.

India is a democracy and culture of secrecy weakens its pillars . The need is to find right balance to ensure transparency and also check espionage and sedition.

Feedback:
Rating :
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Official secrets act was introduced in 1923 for protecting sensitive documents to get in public domain. It is often accused to be get into public domain. It is often accused to be interfering in implementation of RTI. (These two lines can be merged in one and ultimately resulting in reduction of length of answer.)

official secrets as an obstacle to RTI—

  1. Protect corrupt officials- by keeping information secret the act might hide corruption. (better if you can mention provision/Article/section related to this.)
  2. threat to transparency and accountability- in name of secrecy this might threat the very credentials of democracy. (Any provision/article/section is required here as question demands specifically.)
  3. Misuse of the act- sec(5) of the act (Which Act?? OSA or RTI, mention clearly) provides for punishment and this provision has often been used against the journalists and RTI activists.(Point is good and substantiated.)
  4. Threaten RTI functioning - the act goes against right to freedom of speech and expression. (as according to SC ruling this right includes right to obtain information also.)

The official secrets act deals with espionage and sedition helps in protecting confidential information (Here your should use the word ‘National Security’, it will best fit here.)(military operation, spying)but because of its contradictions with RTI there has been demands to keep it under National security act.

India is a democracy and culture of secrecy weakens its pillars. The need is to find right balance to ensure transparency and also check espionage and sedition.

Overall Feedback:

  • Your answer is good in content, direction and words limit.
  • Answer addresses the demand of the question.
  • You need to add little more information in order to provide better comparative analysis.
  • You are hitting the demand of the question but you need to substantiate your views and, hence, you should provide the information about provision/article/section etc.

 

All the best!

Feedback:
Rating :
★★★★★★★★★★ ★★★★★★★★★★
(4/10)

Please read the feedback written on you paper and at the end of your next uploaded paper.

Feedback:
Rating :
★★★★★★★★★★ ★★★★★★★★★★
(4/10)

Overall Feedback:

1) Your answer is good and addresses the demand of the question.

2) You should include case studies or examples to solidify your views.

3) Better if you can mention any article or section of RTI act which is in contrast with OSA such as article 22 of RTI etc.

4) Answer is good but due to absence of example and articles, has become general in nature. 

5) In conclusion you should not give heading 'way forward' rather it should be either 'conclusion' or there should be no heading. 

6) Conclusion should be made more modern and exhibit your ideas about citizen-centric governance, hence, support more transparency without compromising with National Security.

All the best!

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Description

Right to information (RTI) is a legislative marvel empowering the people with access to information on contrary to the British era Official Secrets Act (OSA), which empowers government to withhold any information detrimental to national security.  There have been certain occasions where government has misused the act to declare official documents as secrets to prevent its disclosure under RTI.

Giving primacy to certain provisions of the RTI over OSA, Supreme court held that the public disclosure outweighs the harm to protected interests and instances of corruption and human right violations by intelligence and security agencies. However, these provisions of RTI mostly acts as an exception as the authority to declare secret information lies unbridled with the government.

Both, transparent governance and national security are vital for robust Indian democracy. Therefore, a balance needs to be maintained between RTI and OSA by repealing and subsuming OSA within the fold of National Security Act as recommended by 2nd ARC and Goswami committee.

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