Misue of Official Secrets Act: SC seeks centre's response
The Supreme Court has sought a response from the central government on a petition that sought guidelines to prevent the misuse of the Official Secrets Act. Further the court also sought a reply on the alleged misuse of the sahayak system in the Army. The petition was filed by journalist Poonam Agarwal who had sought a probe into the alleged suicide of Lance Naik Roy Mathew following a sting operation in which he had spoken about the sahayak system.
Mathew was found hanging on February 25 after the sting video of him criticising the sahayak system in the Army went viral.
The Bench sought to know from the centre about why the OSA was invoked in the case. Senior counsel Gopal Subramaniam appearing for the journalist argued that the jawans in the Army could not be asked to perform menial jobs and hence guidelines in this matter must be formed.
On the OSA, the counsel argued that it amounted to blatant misuse of the law and hence the court must intervene to make sure citizens' fundamental rights as well as journalistic freedom are not trampled upon by invoking the provisions of this statute.
Further he contended that the Army and its personnel being citizens of India are under equal constitutional obligation to protect and promote a fair system of administration of justice.
The petition also stated that registration of FIR against the petitioners amounts to violation of fundamental rights of the petitioner as journalist, as the same impedes upon the honest and truthful reporting, which is part of and in fact is extension of right to freedom of speech of every citizen of India.