Official Secrets Act, 1972
OFFICIAL SECRETS ACT, 1972
This act was formulated to protect any information deemed as government secret. Under this act, there are two ways to classify any information as official or secret. The first is as provided in the Schedule of the Act, i.e. all documents, records of decisions and deliberations of the Cabinet and State Executive Councils. The second is by granting powers to public officers to classify any official document or material as “Top Secret”, “Secret”, “Confidential” and “Restricted”. All of these are considered official government secrets.
A person is deemed to have committed an offence if he is found spying or approaching places prohibited by the act, which may be prejudicial to the safety or interest of the country.
In publishing, this act may be committed by an author or journalist in his search for material for his writing. In Section 8 (1) of the act, it is an offence if a person:
· Communicates any information or secret to any foreign country or any person not authorised to communicate it.
· Uses any official secret for the benefit of any foreign country.
· Retains in his possession or control secret documents when he has no right to do so.
· Fails to take reasonable care of or so conducts himself as to endanger the safety or secrecy of an official secret.
A person who is found guilty of breaching the provisions of this act may be imprisoned for a term not less than one year but not exceeding seven years. Imprisonment is mandatory for any person who is convicted of committing an offence under this act.