Govt sets up panel to consider declassification of Netaji-related files

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 16, 2015 00:55 IST

The government formed a committee on Wednesday to examine the need to make changes in the Official Secrets Act, a move that can pave the way for more classified files on Subhas Chandra Bose to be made public.

The three-member panel of secretaries will look at provisions in the British-era law that deals with disclosure of classified documents at a time when sensitive files from several ministries were being leaked and declassified information revealed that the Jawaharlal Nehru government had spied on Netaji’s family.

“There is a need to examine provisions in the law to define what is secret in this age of right to information (RTI). The committee comprising home, law and personnel secretaries is expected to discuss this at its first meeting on Thursday,” said a home ministry official.

The panel’s recommendations will have a direct bearing on putting undisclosed Netaji files in the public domain.

“The need to examine the Official Secrets Act, 1923, arose at a meeting called by the cabinet secretary to discuss the leak of sensitive government documents from the petroleum ministry. The RTI Act was another reason behind the move,” the official said.

The government has already decided to review around 85 files on Netaji, which are either with the Prime Minister’s Office or the foreign ministry.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday met Netaji’s grandnephew Surya Kumar Bose in Berlin as the freedom fighter’s family stepped up demands for declassification of all information related to him.

“We are very obliged to the PM. We understand it will take time, but are glad that the process has been initiated,” said Netaji’s nephew Ardhendu Bose in Kolkata.

Recently declassified files revealed that the Congress government spied on two Bose family homes at Woodburn Park and Elgin Road in Kolkata between 1948 and 1968. Congress rivals alleged that Nehru was wary of the return of his opponent after Bose’s family disputed reports of his death in an air crash in Taiwan in 1945.

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