Free Press Journal

‘Top Secret’ sections should handle classified documents


New Delhi: Classified papers need to be handled only by specially-designated ‘secret’ or ‘top secret’ sections in every central government department, the Centre has said. In a fresh set of instructions, the government also restricted its employees from communicating with the media. Only ministers, secretaries and other specially-authorised officers can give information or be accessible to the representatives of the press.

On the classified papers issue, the government said that every file should be reviewed once in every five years for declassification. An officer not below the level of Under Secretary can only carry secret papers under special circumstances with the prior permission of a Joint Secretary-level officer for attending meeting or discussions outside offices, it said. Section officers or above will only carry confidential papers with prior permission with them. “The authorisation will be produced by the officer on demand,” the instructions issued by the Personnel Ministry said.

The move assumes significance as Delhi Police has arrested some government employees and few executives of big corporate houses for allegedly trading government documents. On communication with the media, the ministry said, “Official information to the press and other news media i.e. radio, television, shall normally be communicated through the Press Information Bureau (PIB).”

Any other official, if approached by a representative of the press, will direct them to the PIB or shall seek the permission of the Secretary of the department before meeting the press, the instructions said.

The Personnel Ministry has cited Departmental Security Instructions issued by Home Ministry which says classified papers are expected to be handled either by officers themselves or in sections designated as ‘secret’ or ‘top secret’.