Govt to revisit process of classification of documents

NEW DELHI, Apr 16: A three-member committee of bureaucrats today decided to revisit the existing instructions for classifications of Government documents, amidst growing chorus for declassification of all files related to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

The panel, comprising Secretaries of Home, Law and Personnel, also decided to throughly examine the earlier suggestions regarding the need to amend the Official Secrets Act.

The committee, which was constituted yesterday, in its first meeting decided to have a fresh look at the existing instructions on classifications of Government documents, official sources said.

The panel decided to involve officers of security and intelligence agencies in its future deliberations.

The committee was set up yesterday to go into implications of the Official Secrets Act in view of the RTI law.

Sources said the committee may suggest upgrading the authorisation for classification of documents from under secretary level officer to joint secretary level officer in the Government.

Sources said the committee favoured a thorough review on the declassification process.

The Government’s move to set up the committee came amidst growing demands for declassification of nearly 90 files relating to Bose which are yet to be made public.

A grandnephew of Netaji Bose, Surya Kumar Bose, had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Berlin on Tuesday and requested him to declassify all files related to events since his death or disappearance in Taiwan on August 18, 1945.

The issue of Netaji related files came to the fore last week when a controversy broke out following reports that his family was kept under surveillance by the Intelligence Bureau for 20 years, much of it during the tenure of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Sources said that among nearly 90 classified files relating to Bose, around 27 are with the Ministry of External Affairs while the rest with the Prime Minister’s Office.

There is no file related to the freedom fighter with the Home Ministry as all have already been declassified and handed over to the National Archives.

After meeting Modi in Berlin, Bose’s grandnephew had claimed that he got an assurance that his demand for declassification of all secret files related to the freedom fighter would be looked into.

According to archival material, which set off a political controversy, Bose’s close relatives, including his two nephews, Sisir Kumar Bose and Amiya Nath Bose, sons of his brother Sarat Chandra Bose, were spied upon for 20 years between 1948 and 1968. Nehru was Prime Minister for 16 of these 20 years.

The files, now with the National Archives, said the Bose family homes at 1, Woodburn Park and 38/2 Elgin Road, were kept under surveillance.

The IB sleuths intercepted and copied letters written by the Bose family and even trailed them on foreign tours.

Bose had quit Congress before independence over differences with Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi and launched an organised military resistance against the British after raising the Indian National Army. (PTI)


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