//Govt panel for repeal of Secrets Act

Govt panel for repeal of Secrets Act

Friday, June 9, 2006 (New Delhi):

The Administrative Reforms Commission has recommended scrapping of the archaic Official Secrets Act (OSA) and inclusion of some of its safeguards in the National Security Act.

It advocated a slew of measures for "effective implementation" of Right to Information Act at all levels including judiciary and legislature.

The commission also asked the government to come out with "clear and unambiguous guidelines" to determine which non-governmental organisations would come under the RTI Act.

In its first report on 'Right to Information–Master key to good governance', submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Commission termed the OSA of 1923 be repealed as "in its current form it is incongruous with the regime of transparency in a democratic society".

The report submitted by Commission's chairman Veerappa Moily said suitable safeguards to protect the security of the state be incorporated in the National Security Act (NSA).

Emerging from a 40-minute meeting with the Prime Minister, at which Minister of State for Personnel Suresh Pachauri was also present, Moily said OSA had a shadow of colonial regime.

Some of the provisions of the OSA could be incorporated in NSA, he said.

About his report, he said: "whatever recommendations we gave are practicable for implementation" and added the Prime Minister was happy and assured him of working out a roadmap for giving effect to them.

The report suggested revamping of the Information Commissions saying that at least half the members of such Commissions be drawn from non-civil service background so that they represent the rich variety in society. (PTI)