OFFICIAL SECRETS ACT

Arrangement of Sections

1. Short title.

2. Declaration of prohibited places.

3. Prohibited entry into places.

4. Resistance to or interference with sentries.

5. Possession of cameras in prohibited places.

6. Spying.

7. Communication of official secret to unauthorised persons.

8. Receiving unauthorised communication of official secret.

9. Conduct endangering safety of official secret.

10. Unauthorised use of uniforms, false declarations, forgery personation and forged documents.

11. Power to require the production of telegrams.

12. Duty to give information.

13. Harbouring offenders or intending offenders.

14. Attempts, incitements.

15. Permits.

16. Power to search offenders or suspects and seize photographs.

17. Search warrant to look for and seize photographs.

18. Disposal of photographs seized or produced.

19. Power to arrest.

20. Search warrants.

21. Manner of making arrests, searches.

22. Restriction on prosecution.

23. Venue.

24. Exclusion of public from hearing of cases.

25. Offences by companies, firms.

26. Penalties.

27. Interpretation.

32 of 1955.

AN ACT to restrict access to Official Secrets and secret documents and to prevent unauthorised disclosure thereof.

[Date of Commencement: 1st September, 1955]

1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the Official Secrets Act.

2. Declaration of prohibited places.

(1) For the better safeguarding of information relating to the defences of Sri Lanka and to the equipment, establishments, organisations or institutions intended to be or capable of being used for the purposes of defence, the Minister may by Order declare—

(a) that any land, building, ship or aircraft specified in the Order shall be a prohibited place for the purposes of this Act, or

(b) that lands, buildings, ships or aircraft of any class or description specified in the Order shall be prohibited places for those purposes.

(2) Whereby an Order under subsection (1) the Minister declares lands, buildings, ships or aircraft of any class or description specified in the Order to be prohibited places, he may, by the same Order or by any subsequent Order under that subsection, exclude from such prohibited places any land, building, ship or aircraft of that class or description or any part of any such land or building.

(3) Every Order under, this section shall be published in the Gazette and shall come into force on such date not earlier than the date of publication of the Order in the Gazette as may be specified in the Order or, where no date is so specified, on the date of such publication.

(4) Where an Order is made and published under this section, the question of the necessity for the Order or the validity thereof shall not be canvassed by any court or authority.

3. Prohibited entry into places.

(1) No person shall enter any prohibited place:

Provided, however, that—

(a) a person holding office under the Republic may enter a prohibited place in the discharge of his duties, and

(b) a person to whom a permit is issued under section 15 may enter a prohibited place specified in the permit for any purpose authorised by the permit.

(2) If a person—

(a) contravenes the provisions of subsection (1), or

(b) gains admission to a prohibited place otherwise than at an authorised point of entry,

he shall be guilty of an offence punishable under subsection (2) of section 26.

(3) A person shall be deemed to enter a prohibited place if he proceeds towards or into that place further than—

(a) any wall, fence, barrier, buoy, boom or mole, erected, placed or maintained by the competent authority of that place in order to indicate the boundary thereof, or

(b) any point or line (being a point or line on or near the boundary of that place) at which persons are required or directed to stop either by a sentry on duty thereat or by a notice exhibited by the competent authority of that place.

(4) In the case of any prohibited place "authorised point of entry” means such point on the boundary of that place as may be set apart or specified or approved by or on behalf of the competent authority of that place as the point at which persons may enter that place.

4. Resistance to or interference with sentries.

If any person, within or in the vicinity of a prohibited place, obstructs or knowingly misleads, or otherwise interferes with or impedes any police officer or any member of the armed forces engaged on guard, sentry, patrol, or other similar duty in relation to the prohibited place; he shall be guilty of an offence punishable under subsection (2) of section 26.

5. Possession of cameras in prohibited places.

(1) No person shall take with him into a prohibited place, or have in his possession while he remains therein, any camera or sketching materials:

Provided, however, that—

(a) a person holding office under the Republic may, in the discharge of his duties, take with him into a prohibited place, or have in his possession while he remains therein, any camera or sketching materials;

(b) a person holding office under the Republic and residing within a prohibited place may take with him into that place, or have in his possession while he remains therein, any camera or sketching materials; and

(c) a person to whom a permit is issued under section 15 may, if the permit expressly authorise him to do so, take with him into a prohibited place specified in the permit, or have in his possession while he remains therein, any camera or sketching materials.

(2) If a person contravenes the provisions of
subsection (1), he shall be guilty of an offence punishable under subsection (2) of section 26.

(3) No person shall take or make any photograph, sketch or model of any prohibited place or of anything therein:

Provided, however, that—

(a) a person holding office under the Republic may, in the discharge of his duties, take or make any photograph, sketch or model of any prohibited place or of anything therein; and

(b) a person to whom a permit is issued under section 15 may, if the permit expressly authorise him to do so, take or make any photograph, sketch or model of any part of a prohibited place or anything in that place.

(4) If a person contravenes the provisions of subsection (3), he shall be guilty of an offence punishable under subsection (2) of section 26.

6. Spying.

(1) If any person, for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State—

(a) approaches, inspects, passes over, is in the neighbourhood of or enters any prohibited place; or

(b) takes any measurements or soundings or carries out a survey of any prohibited place; or

(c) takes or makes any photograph, sketch or model of any prohibited place or of anything in any such place; or

(d) makes any record or note relating to any prohibited place or to anything in any such place; or

(e) obtains, collects, records, publishes, or uses, or communicates to any other person any official secret or secret document, or any information which is calculated to be or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy,

he shall be guilty of an offence punishable under
subsection (1) of section 26.

(2) On a prosecution under this section—

(a) it shall not be necessary to show that the accused person was guilty of any particular act tending to show a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State, and, notwithstanding that no such act is proved against him, he may be convicted if, from the circumstances of the case, or his conduct, or his known character as proved, it appears that his purpose was a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State; and if any official secret or secret document, or any such information as is referred to in paragraph (e) of subsection (1) is obtained, collected, recorded, published, used, or communicated by any person other than a person acting under lawful authority, it shall be deemed to have been obtained, collected, recorded, published, used, or communicated for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State unless the contrary is proved; and

(b) the fact that the accused person has been in communication with, or attempted to communicate with, a foreign agent, whether within or without Sri Lanka, shall be evidence that he has, for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State, obtained or attempted to obtain information which is calculated to be or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy.

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