Spread the love

This article is written by Yogesh Shivhare of 2nd Semester of University Of Allahabad


The Right to Information (RTI) and the Official Secrets Act, 1923 are two distinct pieces of legislation in India that serve different purposes. The Official Secrets Act of 1923 is a law that prohibits the disclosure of certain information that is considered to be secret or confidential. The Right to Information (RTI) Act of 2005, on the other hand, allows citizens to access information held by public authorities. In certain situations, the two laws may conflict with each other. For example, if a citizen requests information under the RTI Act that is protected under the Official Secrets Act, the public authority may not be able to disclose that information.

Keyword: – Right to information act 2005, Official secret act 1923,


The Official Secrets Act, 1923 is an old colonial-era law enacted by the British government in India. Its primary objective is to safeguard state secrets, protect sensitive government information, and prevent unauthorized disclosure of such information. The act was designed to maintain national security, public order, and integrity.

Under the Official Secrets Act, 1923, unauthorized possession, communication, or publication of any official information that is likely to affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, its relations with for koeign states, or its security apparatus is considered an offense. The act provides for stringent penalties, including imprisonment, for individuals found guilty of contravening its provisions.

On the other hand, the Right to Information Act, 2005 is a legislation that empowers citizens to access information held by public authorities. It is a landmark law that promotes transparency, accountability, and participation in governance. The RTI Act allows citizens to request and obtain information from government departments and public bodies, subject to certain exemptions and limitations specified in the law.

While the Official Secrets Act, 1923 aims to restrict the flow of information, the RTI Act encourages openness and ensures that citizens have the right to know how the government functions and utilizes public resources. The RTI Act provides a mechanism for citizens to seek information, file appeals, and seek redressal in case of non-compliance by public authorities.


The Official Secrets Act 1923 is an Act of the Parliament of India that deals with the protection of official secrets and classified information. It was enacted during the British colonial rule in India and continues to be in force. Under the Official Secrets Act 1923, the government has the authority to restrict access to certain information deemed sensitive for reasons of national security, foreign relations, or other specified purposes. The Act imposes penalties for unauthorized disclosure of such information and establishes a legal framework to ensure its protection.

The Act broadly covers three main aspects:


It prohibits spying, wrongful communication of information, and unauthorized possession of secret official documents. Individuals found guilty of espionage-related activities can face severe penalties, including imprisonment.

Disclosure of Official Secrets:

The Act prohibits the disclosure of any official information or documents without proper authorization. This includes information relating to defense, security, intelligence, or any other matter of public interest.

Communication with Foreign Entities:

The Act also restricts communication with foreign entities and imposes penalties for passing on official information to foreign governments or their representatives without proper authorization.

It is important to note that the Official Secrets Act 1923 is applicable in India, and other countries may have their own similar legislation to protect official secrets and classified information.


The RTI Act refers to the Right to Information Act, which is a law enacted by the Parliament of India in 2005. The purpose of this act is to provide Indian citizens with the right to access information held by public authorities. It aims to promote transparency and accountability in the functioning of government institutions.

Key features of the RTI Act include:

Right to Information:

The act grants every citizen the right to seek information from public authorities. This includes central, state, and local government bodies, as well as government-funded organizations.

Public Authorities:

The act covers a wide range of public authorities, including government departments, ministries, offices, institutions, and bodies substantially financed by the government.

Information Disclosure:

Public authorities are required to proactively disclose certain information, such as their organizational structure, functions, and details of various schemes and programs.

Request for Information:

Any citizen can file an application to a public authority to obtain information. The application must be submitted in writing or through electronic means, specifying the details of the information sought.

Timeframe and Fees:

The act specifies a timeframe within which the information must be provided, generally within 30 days. A nominal fee may be charged for the application, and additional charges may apply for providing the information.

Appeal and Complaint Mechanism:

If the requested information is denied or not provided within the specified time, an individual can file an appeal to a higher authority. Additionally, the act provides for the establishment of Information Commissions to address complaints and ensure the proper implementation of the act. The RTI Act has played a significant role in empowering citizens and holding public authorities accountable. It has been instrumental in promoting transparency, curbing corruption, and fostering good governance in India.

Objective of the Right to Information Act:

The basic object of the Right to Information Act is to empower the citizens, promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government, contain corruption, and make our democracy work for the people in real sense. It goes without saying that an informed citizen is better equipped to keep necessary vigil on the instruments of governance and make the government more accountable to the governed. The Act is a big step towards making the citizens informed about the activities of the Government.

Right to information Act, 2005 and its exception

The right to information bill was passed by Lok Sabah on 11th may 2005 and by Raj Sabah on 12th may 2005 and took the assent of president on 15th June 2005. It has come as statue book Right to Information Act, 2005 (22 of 2005). It was enacted to provide transparency and accountability of the sovereign authority to the people. Under this Act an individual can make an application to get the information from the public authority. It aids to check the working system of the government. In the democracy of India, where its citizens play a very crucial role, it is very necessary to provide them adequacy, transparency and accountability of the government. Now the question arises is that, is the individual has the right to get any information from public authority? Article 19 (1)(a) (which is a fundamental right) implicit or concern with the right to information but Article 19 (2) of the constitution also states that if the disclosed information affects the integrity or security of the country then government can impose restriction on such sub clause. In other word, a citizen can get the information to the extent which does not affect the secrecy and dignity of the country. So right to information is not an absolute right. Section 8 of the Right to Information Act concerned with the exemption from disclosure of information. It states that any information which affect country’s integrity, security, strategic, scientific economic interest of the state which lead to incitement of an offence and contempt of the court of law, breach of privilege of parliament and state legislature, information regarding trade secret; the disclosure of which would harm the competitive of third party, information received in confidence with foreign government, information related to personal life of individual which has not related to any public interest or activity shall not any obligation to the public authority to be disclosed. Because of such exception it is said that Right to information does not provide absolute right.

History of The Right to Information Act

It has taken India 82 years to transition from an opaque system of governance, legitimized by the colonial Official Secrets Act, to one where citizens can demand the right to information. The recent enactment of the Right to Information Act 2005 marks a significant shift for Indian democracy, for the greater the access of citizens to information, the greater will be the responsiveness of government to community needs.

Right To Information is derived from our fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 of the Constitution. If we do not have information on how our Government and Public Institutions function, we cannot express any informed opinion on it. Democracy revolves around the basic idea of Citizens being at the center of governance. And the freedom of the press is an essential element for a democracy to function. It is thus obvious that the main reason for a free press is to ensure that Citizens are informed. Thus it clearly flows from this, that the Citizens Right To Know is paramount.

The Act and its rules define a format for requisitioning information, a time period within which information must be provided, a method of giving the information, some charges for applying and some exemptions of information which will not be given.

The Need for the Right to Information

In recent years, there has been an almost unstoppable global trend towards recognition of the right to information by countries, intergovernmental organizations, civil society and the people. The right to information has been recognized as a fundamental human right, which upholds the inherent dignity of all human beings. The right to information forms the crucial underpinning of participatory democracy – it is essential to ensure accountability and good governance. The greater the access of the citizen to information, the greater the responsiveness of government to community needs. Alternatively, the more restrictions that are placed on access, the greater will be the feelings of ‘powerlessness’ and ‘alienation’.

Without information, people cannot adequately exercise their rights as citizens or make informed choices.

Maintenance and Publication of Records

Sec. 4 makes it a duty of public authorities to maintain records for easy access and to publish within 120 days the name of the particular officers who should give the information and in regard to the framing of the rules, regulations etc. Subsection (3) of sec. 4 states that for the performance of subsection (1), all information shall be disseminated widely and, in such form, and manner, which is easily accessible to the public.

Sec. 6 permits persons to obtain information in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area from the designated officers. The person need not give any reason for the request or any personal details. Sec. 7 requires the request to be disposed of within 30 days provided that where information sought for concerns the life or liberty of a person, the same shall be provided within 48 hours. Under sec. 7(7) before any decision is taken for furnishing the information, the designated officer shall take into consideration the representation, if any, made by a third party under sec. 11. A request rejected shall be communicated under sec. 7(8) giving reasons and specifying the procedure for appeal and the designation of the appellate authority. Sec. 7(9) exempts granting information where it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety and preservation of the record in question.


https://www.indiacode.nic.in/handle/123456789/2065?sam_handle=123456789/1362 https://rti.gov.in/webactrti.htm

https://blog.ipleaders.in/right-to-information-act-2005-a-comprehensive- overview/#: ~:text=Objectives%20of%20the%20Right%20to%20Information%20Act%2C%20200 5&text=To%20provide%20for%20the%20constitution, To%20contain%20corruption. https://byjus.com/free-ias-prep/right-to-information-rti


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *