Official Secrets Act

THE BURMA OFFICIAL SECRETS ACT
[INDIA ACT XIX, 1923] (2nd April, 1923)
11. This Act extends to the whole of the Union of Burma, and applies al so to all citizens of the Union
and all servants of the Government wherever they may be.
2. In this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context,—
(1) any reference to a place belonging to [the State] 2 includes a place occupied by any
department of the Government, whether the place is or is not actually vested in [the State] 1;
(2) expressions referring to communicating or receiving include any communicating or
receiving, whether in whole or in part, and whether the sketc h, plan, model, article, note,
document, or information itself or the substance, effect or description thereof only be
communicated or received; expressions referring to obtaining or retaining any sketch, plan,
model, article, note, or document include the copying or causing to be copied of the whole or
any part of any sketch, plan, model, article, note, or document ; and expressions referring to
the communication of any sketch, plan, model, ar ticle, note or document include the transfer
or transmission of the sketch, plan, model, article, note or document;
(3) “document” includes part of a document;
(4) “model” includes design, pattern and specimen;
(5) “munitions of war” incl udes the whole or any part of any ship, submarine, aircraft, tank or
similar engine, arms and ammunition, torpedo, or mine intended or adopted for use in war,
and any other article, material, or device, whet her actual or proposed, intended for such use;
1(6) “office under the Government” includes any office or employment in or under any
department of the Government;
(7) “photograph” includes an undeveloped film or plate;
(8) “prohibited place” means —
(a) any work of defense, arsenal, naval, military or air force establishment or station, mine,
minefield, camp, ship or aircraft belonging t o, or occupied by or on behalf of, [the
State] 1, any military telegraph or telephone so belonging or occupied, any wireless or
signal station or office so belonging or oc cupied, and any factory, dockyard or other
place so belonging or occupied and used for the purpose of building, repairing, making

or storing any munitions of war, or any sketches, plans, models or documents relating
thereto, or for the purpose of getting any metals, oil or minerals of use in time of war;
1 Substituted by the Union of Burma (Adaptation of La ws) Order, 1948.

(b) any place not belonging to [the State] 1 where any munitions of war or any sketches,
models, plans or documents relating thereto, ar e being made, repaired, gotten or stored under
contract with, or with any person on behalf of, [the Government] 1;
(c) any place belonging to or used for the purpose of [the State] 1 which is for the time being
declared by the President of the Union, by notific ation in the Gazette, to be a prohibited place
for the purposes of this Act on the ground that information with respect thereto, or damage
thereto, would be useful to an enemy, and to which a copy of the notification in respect
thereof has been affixed in [Burmese] 1 and in the [language of the locality, if any] 13;
(d) any railway, road, way or channel, or other means of communication by land or water
(including any works or structur es being part thereof or connected therewith) or any place
used for gas, water or electricity works or other works for purpos es of a public character, or
any place where any munitions of war or any sk etches, models, plans or documents relating
thereto, are being made, repaired or stored otherwise than on behalf of [the State] 1, which is
for the time being declared by the President of the Union, by notification in the Gazette, to be
a prohibited place for the purposes of this Ac t on the ground that information with respect
thereto, or the destruction or obstruction thereo f, or interference therewith, would be useful
to an enemy, and to which a copy of the notification in respect thereof has been a
ffixed in
[Burmese] 1 and in the [language of the locality, if any] 1;
(9) “sketch” includes any phot ograph or other mode of representing any place or
thing; and
(10) “Superintendent of Police” incl udes any police-officer of a like or superior rank, and any
person upon whom the powers of a Superintendent of Police are for the purposes of this Act
conferred by the President of the Union.
3. (1) If any person for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State—

(a) approaches, inspects, passes over or is in the vicinity of, or enters, any prohibited place; or
(b) makes any sketch, plan, model, or note which is calculated to be or mi ght be or is intended
to be, directly or indirectly, useful to an enemy; or
(c) obtains, collects, records or publishes or communicates to any other person any secret
official code or password, or any sketch, pla n, model, article or note or other document or
information which is calculated to be or mi ght be or is intended to be, directly or
indirectly, useful to an enemy;
he shall be a term which may extend, where the offence is
punishable with imprisonment for
committed in relation to any work of defense, arsenal, naval, military or air force establishment or
station, mine, minefield, factory, dockyard, camp, ship or aircraft or otherwise in relation to the
naval, military or air force affairs of [the State] 1 or in relation to any secret official code, to fourteen
years and in other cases to three years.

1 Substituted by the Union of Burma (Adaptation of La ws) Order, 1948.

(2) On a prosecution for an offence punishable unde r this section with imprisonment for a term
which may extend to fourteen years, 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 kn own character as proved, it appears that his purpose
was a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State; and if any sketch, plan, model, article,
note, document, or information relating to or used in any prohibited place, or relating to anything in
such a place, or any secret official code or password is made, obtained, collected, recorded, published
or communicated by any person other than a pers on acting under lawful authority, and 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, such sketch, plan, model, article, note,
document or information shall be presumed to have been made, obtained, collected, recorded,
published or communicated for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State.
4. (1) In any proceedings against a person for an offen ce under section 3, the fact that he has been in
communication with, or attempted to communicate with, a foreign agent, whether within or without
the Union of Burma, shall be releva nt for the purpose of proving that he has, fo r a purpose prejudicial
to the safety or interests of the State, obtained or attempted to obtai n information which is calculated
to be or might be, or is intended to be, directly or indirectly, useful to an enemy.
(2) For the purpose of this section, but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing
provision,—
(a) a person may be presumed to have been in communication with a foreign agent if —

(i) he has, either within or without the Uni on of Burma, visited the address of a foreign
agent or consorted or associated with a foreign agent, or
(ii) ther
either within or without the Union of Burma, the name or address of, or any o
information regarding a foreign agent has been found in his possession, or has been
obtained by him from any other person;
(b) the expression “foreign agent” includes any pe rson who is or has been or in respect of
whom it for suspecting him of being or having been
appears that there are reasonable grounds
employed by a foreign power, either directly or indirectly, for the purpose of committing an
act, either within or without the Union of Burma, prejudicial to the safety or interests of the
State, or who has or is reasonably suspected of having, either within or without the Union of
Burma, committed, or attempted to commit, such an act in the interests of a foreign power;
(c) any address, whether within or without the Union of Burma, in respect of
which it appears that there are reasonable gr ounds for suspecting it of being an address
used for the receipt of communications intend ed for a foreign agent, or any address at
which a foreign agent resides, or to which he resorts for the purpose of giving or receiving
communications, or at which he carries on an y business, may be presumed to be the
address of a foreign agent, and communications addressed to such an address to be
communications with a foreign agent.
5. (1) If any person having in his posse ssion or control any secret official code or password or any
sketch, pla ation which relates to or is used in a prohibited
n, model, article, note, document or inform
place or relates to anything in such a place, or whic h has been made or obtained in contravention of

this Act, or which has been entrusted in confidence to him by any person holding office under
Government, or which he has obtained or to which he has had access owing to his position as a
person who holds or has held office under Government, or as a person who holds or has held a
contract made on behalf of Government, or as a person who is or has been employed under a person
who holds or has held such an office or contract —
(a) willfully communicates the code or password, sk etch, plan, model, article, note, document
or information to any person other than a person to whom he is authorized to communicate it,
or a Court of Justice or a person to whom it is, in the interests of the State, his duty to co-
mmunicate it ; or
(b) uses the information in his possession for the benefit of any foreign power or in any other
manner prejudicial to the safety of the State ; or
(c) retains the sketch, plan, model, article, not e or document in his possession or control
when he has no right to retain it, or when it is contrary to his duty to retain it, or willfully
fails to comply with all directions issued by la wful authority with regard to the return or
disposal thereof ; or

(d) fails to take reasonable care of, or so conduct s himself as to endanger the safety of, the
sketch, plan, model, article, note, document, secret official code or password or
information;
he shall be guilty of an offence under this section.
(2) If any person voluntarily receives any secret offi cial code or password or any sketch, plan,
model, article, note, document or information know ing or having reasonable ground to believe, at the
time when he receives it, that the code, pass wor d, sketch, plan, model, article, note, document or
information is communicated in contravention of this Act, he shall be guilty of an offence under this
section.
(3) If any person having in his possession or control any sketc h, plan, model, article, note,
document or information which relates to munitions of war, communicates it, directly or indirectly,
to any foreign power or in any other manner prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State, he shall
be guilty of an offence under this section.
(4) A person guilty of an offence under this secti on shall be punishable with imprisonment for a
term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
6. (1) If any person for the purpose of gaining admission or of assisting any other person to gain
admission to a prohibited place or for any other purpose prejudicial to the safety of the State —
(a) uses or wears, without lawful authority, an y naval, military, air force, police or other
official uniform, or any uniform so nearly re sembling the same as to be calculated to
deceive, or falsely represents himself to be a person who is or has been entitled to use or
wear any such uniform ; or
(b) orally, or in writing in any declaration or application, or in any document signed by him or
on his behalf, knowingly m akes or connives at the making of any false statement or any
omission ; or

(c) forges, alters, or tampers with any passport or any naval, military, air force, police, or
official pass, permit, certificate, license, or other document of a similar character
(hereinafter in this section re ferred to as an official document) or knowingly uses or has in
his possession any such forged, altered, or irregular official document ; or
(d) personates, or falsely represents himself to be, a person holding, or in the employment of a
person holding, office under the Government, or to be or not to be a person to whom an
official document or secret official co de or password has been duly issued or
communicated, or with intent to obtain an of ficial document, secret official code or
password, whether for himself or any other person, knowingly makes any false statement ;
or

(e) uses, or has in his possession or under his control, without the authority of the department of
the Government or the authority concerned, any die, seal or stamp of or belonging to, or
used, made or provided by, any department of the Government, or by any diplomatic, naval,
military or air force authority appointed by or acting under the authority of Government, or
any die, seal or stamp so nearly resembling any su ch die, seal or stamp as to be calculated to
receive, or counterfeits any such die, seal or stamp, or knowingly uses, or has in his
possession or under his control, any such counterfeited die, seal or stamp
he shall be guilty of arm offence under this section.
(2) If any person for any purpose prejudici al to the safety of the State—
(a) retains any official document, whether or not completed or issued for use, when he has
no right to retain it, or when it is contrary to his duty to retain it, or willfully fails to
comply within any directions issued by any department of the Government or any person
authorized by such department with regard to the return or disposal thereof ; or
(b) allows any other person to have possession of any official document issued for his use
alone, or communicates any secret official code or password so issued, or, without lawful
authority or excuse, has in hi s possession any official document or secret official code or
password issued for the use of some person other than himself, or, on obtaining possession
of any official document by finding or otherwise,

willfully fails to restore it to the person or authority by whom or for whose use it was
issued, or to a police-officer; or
(c) without lawful authority or ex cuse, manufactures or sells, or has in his possession for
sale, any such die, seal or stamp as aforesaid;
he shall be guilty of an offence under this section.
(3) A person guilty of an offence under this secti on shall be punishable with imprisonment for a
term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
(4) The provisions of sub-section (2) of section 3 shall apply, for the purpose of proving a
purpose prejudicial to the safety of the State, to any prosecution for an offence under this section
relating to the naval, military or air force affairs of the State, or to any secret official code, in like
manner as they apply, for the purpose of proving a purpos e prejudicial to the safety or interests of the

State, to prosecutions for offences punishable under that section with imprisonment for a term which
may extend to fourteen years.
7. (1) No person in the vicinity of any prohibited place shall obstruct, knowingly mislead or
otherwise interfere with or impe de, any police-officer, or any memb er of the Burma forces engaged
on guard, sentry, patrol, or other similar duty in relation to the prohibited place.
(2) If any person acts in contravention of the provisions of this section, he shall be punishable
within imprisonment which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
8. (1) It shall be the duty of every pe rson to give on demand to a Superintendent of Police, or other
police-officer not below the rank of Inspector em powered by an Inspector-General or Commissioner
of Police in this behalf, or to any member of th e Burma forces engaged on guard, sentry, patrol or
other similar duty, any information in his power re lating to an offence or suspected offence under
section 3, or under section 3 read with section 9, and, if so required, and upon tender of his reasonable
expenses, to attend at such re asonable time and place as may be specified for the purpose of
furnishing such information.
(2) If any person fails to give any such informa tion or to attend as aforesaid, he shall be
punishable with imprisonment which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
9. Any person who attempts to commit or ab ets the commission of an offence under
this Act shall be punishable with the same punishment, and be liable to be proceeded against in the
same manner, as if he had committed such offence.
10. (1) If any person knowingly harbors any person wh om he knows or has reasonable grounds for
supposing to be a person who is about to commit or who has committed an offence under section 3, or
under section 3 read within section 9, or knowingly pe rmits to meet or assemble in any premises in
his occupation or under his control any such persons, he shall be guilty of an offence under this
section.
(2) It shall be the duty of every person, having harbored any such person as aforesaid or
permitted to meet or assemble in any premises in his occupation or under his control any such
persons as aforesaid, to give on demand to a Superi ntendent of Police, or other police-officer not
below the rank of Inspector empowered by an Inspect or-General or Commissioner of Police in this
behalf, any information in his power relating to any such person or persons, and if any person fails to
give any such information, he shall be guilty of an offence under this section.
(3) A person guilty of an offence under this secti on shall be punishable with imprisonment for a
term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
11. (1) If a Magistrate of the first class or Subdivisional Magistrate is satisfied by information on
oath that there is reasonable ground for suspecting that an offence under this Act has been or is about
to be committed, he may grant a search warrant authorizing any police-officer named therein, not
being below the rank of an officer in charge of a police station, to enter at any time any premises or
place named in the warrant, if necessary, by force, and to search the premises or place and every
person found therein, and to seize any sketch, plan, model, article, note or
document, or anything of a like nature, or anything which is evidence of an offence under this Act
having been or being about to be committed, which he may find on the premises or place or any such
person, and with regard to or in connection with which he has r easonable ground for suspecting that

an offence under this Act has been or is about to be committed.
(2) Where it appears to a police-officer, not being be low the rank of Superintendent, that the case
is one of great emergency, and that in the interests of the State immediate action is necessary, he may
by a written order under his hand give to any police-officer the lik e authority as may be given by the
warrant of a Magistrate under this section.
(3) Where action has been taken by a police-officer under sub-section (2) he shall, as soon as
may be, report such action to the Dist rict or Subdivisional Magistrate.
12. Notwithstanding anything in the Code of Criminal Procedure —
(a) an offence punishable under section 3 or unde r section 3 read with section 9 within
imprisonment for a term which may extend to fourteen years shall be a cognizable and
non-bailable offence;
(b) an offence under clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 6 shall be acognizable and bailable
offence ; and
(c) every other offence under this Act shall be a non-cognizable and bailable offence, in
respect of which a warrant of arrest shall ordinarily issue in the first instance.
13. (1) No Court (other than that of a Magistrate of the first class specially empowered in this
behal any
f by the President of the Union) which is inferi or to that of a District Magistrate shall try
offence under this Act.

(2) I any person under trial before a Magistrate for an offence under this Act at an
y time before a f
charge is framed claims to be tried by the Court of Session, the Magistrate shall, if he does not
discharge the accused, commit the case for trial by that Court, notwithstanding that it is not a case
exclusively triable by that Court.

(3) No Court shall take cognizance of any offe nce under this Act unless upon complaint made by
order of, or under authority from, the President of the Union, or some officer empowered by the
President of the Union in this behalf:
Provided that a person charged with such an offence may be arrested, or a warrant for his arrest
may be issued and executed, and any such person may be remanded in custody or on bail,
notwithstanding that such complaint has not been made, but no further or other proceedings shall be
taken until such complaint has been made.

(4) For the purposes of the trial of a person for an offence under this Act,
the offence may be
deemed to have been committed either at the pla ce in which the same actually was committed or at
any place in the Union of Burma in which the offender may be found.
14. In addition and without prejudice to any pow ers which a Court may possess to order the
exclusion of the public from any proceedings, if, in the course of proceedings before a Court against
any person for an offence under this Act or the proceedi ngs on appeal, or in the course of the trial of
a person under this Act, application is made by th e prosecution, on the ground that the publication of
any evidence to be given or of any statement to be made in the course of the
proceedings would be prejudicial to the safety of th e State, that all or any portion of the public shall

be excluded during any part of the hearing, the Court may make an order to that effect, but the
passing of sentence shall inn any case take place in public.
15. Where the person guilty of an offence under th is Act is a company or corporation, every
director and officer of the company or corporation with whose knowledge and consent the offence
was committed shall be guilty of the like offence.