RTI trumps Official Secrets Act, says SC
The Supreme Court has reserved its order on whether it would examine the documents submitted by Petitioners to review its order on the Rafale deal.
The government had argued these documents are privileged and cannot be produced in court without its permission. While, petitioners had said that everything cannot be dismissed in the name of national security.
Government has said that (a)Article 19(2) of the Constitution (reasonable restrictions on free speech) (b)Official Secrets Act and (c)Under Section 8 and 9 of RTI Act allows the government to withhold information and restrict the sharing of official documents in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of the country.
On the other hand, apex court have said that (a)Section 22 of the RTI Act gave it an overriding effect over the Official Secrets Act (b)Under Section 24 of the RTI Act even security and intelligence establishments are not exempted from disclosing information in relation to corruption and human rights violations and (c)Section 8(2) provides that information exempted under sub-section(1) or exempted under the Official Secrets Act,1923 can be disclosed if public interest in disclosure overweighs the harm to the protected interest.
Official Secrets Act(OSA) is India’s anti espionage (Spy and Secret agent) act enacted in 1923 during the British Rule. It extends to all matters of secrecy and confidentiality in governance in the country.
Right to Information Act 2005 mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information. The basic objective of the Right to Information Act is to (a)empower the citizens (b)promote transparency accountability in the working of the Government (c)contain corruption and (d)make our democracy work for the people in real sense.