The Public Records Act, 1993

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The Public Records Act has been incorporated on 22nd December, 1993. This Act has been formulated to standardize the management, administration and preservation of public records of the Central Government, Union Territory Administration, Committees formed by the Central Government and such other bodies, corporations and undertakings of the Central Government and Union Territory Administrations.

The Central Government has enormous powers to consolidate, standardize and administer the operations connected with the maintenance and disbursement of public records with proper management, preservation, etc, in pursuance to public records under this Act. The Central Government and Union Territory of Administration in pursuance to the maintenance of public record establish certain Agencies under various provisions of the Act.

The Central Government shall appoint a Director General as a head to look after the overall functions in relation to the public records. This Director General shall supervise, administer and control over the documents and records. He always accepts the deposits or funds for maintenance of public records of permanent nature. He always gives his cent percent in scrutinizing and framing the mechanism to maintain the public records internally and externally from consolidating, looking for the place for such inventories, etc, to promoting, tendering, etc for creating an agencies to maintain such public records. It can also conduct a training program in relation to documentation and management.  This Director General shall dispose off and accepts historical documents of national importance. He performs such other functions in pursuance to the maintenance of public records.

In case of any action with regard to public records, everybody should take a prior approval of the Central Government except in case if such public records were taken out or sent out of India for Official purpose. All record agencies shall appoint one such person as a Record Officer to discharge such functions as prescribed by this Act.

 The Record Officer first look for a Record room for keeping the public records safely. This Officer shall perform several functions under the agencies in pursuance to the maintenance of public records. He shall monitor and take a periodical report on such records and arrange it in a sequential manner as it deems fit. He shall take necessary advice from both the National Archive of India and Union Territory for Archives. He shall submit annual reports every year to the Director General. This Record Officer shall perform such other functions in pursuance to the maintenance of public records.

The Record Officer shall perform all functions under the instructions of the Director General of Archives. In case if the Director General found any misuse or defuse by the Record Officer, he shall take appropriate action to recover or restore such public records. The Record Officer shall inform in writing any case of unauthorized action performed by him to the Director General of Archives to take proper steps to retain those records. The Record Officer shall take assistance from any other Government Officer for the purpose of restoration of public records.

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The public records shall not be destroyed or disposed without following the terms and conditions specified under this Act. In case of records before 1892 shall not be destroyed without the permission of the Director General of Archives. In case if any person violates the conditions and terms mentioned above shall be punished with imprisonment with or without fine as it deems fit. In case of any records that are classified as security records, shall not be transferred to either National Archives of India or Union Territory Archives.

The National Archives of India and Union Territory of Archives shall receive any historical Archives as a gift or purchase or obtain through any other mode. In case of any unclassified records for more than thirty years shall be transferred to the National Archives of India or Archives of Union Territory following such terms and conditions as prescribed under this Act.

The Central Government with the notifications in the Official Gazette shall form an Archives Advisory Board in pursuance to this Act. This Board consists of such members as prescribed under this Act and their duties are to advice the Central Government and Union Territory Administration in relation to the maintenance of public records.

The Central Government with the notifications in the Official Gazette shall introduce any number of laws or provisions in pursuance to this Act. Introduction of such new provisions or laws shall be made only after getting the assent from both the Houses of the Parliament and signed by the President. No suits or prosecution shall be made for any action done by any authorized person in pursuance to this Act in good faith.

 This Act gave the basic structure on how to maintain the public records but there was no proper regulatory mechanism formed to monitor this Act. It remains much theoretical rather than the efficient practical application of norms.

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by C.Srivenkatesh Prabhu.