On Monday (19th October), Patiala Home Court docket (Delhi) dismissed the bail utility of freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma, who has been arrested in an espionage case underneath the Official Secrets and techniques Act, 1923.
Extra Periods Decide Dharmender Rana denied him bail on the bottom that sufficiently grave and incriminating materials was accessible on report towards him and the Court docket discovered that the allegations towards him have been properly based.
It could be famous that on Monday (14th September), the Delhi Police Particular Cell had arrested Sharma underneath the Official Secrets and techniques Act, 1923 (OSA), alleging that he possessed categorised defence-related paperwork.
Delhi police officers had additionally said that the journalist was arrested for passing delicate info to Chinese language intelligence.
Arguments put forth
It was submitted by the Counsel of Rajeev Sharma that the paperwork in query are neither secret nor categorised. It was submitted that there’s a well-established process to declare the paperwork as secret or categorised. It was submitted that in violation of the stated process, the paperwork in query can’t be claimed to be secret.
It was additional submitted that merely as a result of the applicant/accused is an accredited journalist, he isn’t entitled to enter the Defence Ministry. It was submitted that there’s a very strict and elaborate process to enter the Defence Ministry and no person can enter the Ministry with out present process the strict process for entry.
It was additional submitted that arrest of the applicant/accused within the immediate matter is pre-mature and the police ought to have made an intensive probe and after contacting the defence ministry ought to have apprehended the applicant, in case, if the police is available in possession of some incriminating materials towards the applicant/accused.
It was submitted that no offence u/s 3/4/5 of Official Secrets and techniques Act is attracted within the immediate case. It’s additional submitted that the applicant/accused is in Judicial Custody for previous 34 days and investigation qua him is already full. It was thus prayed that applicant/accused could also be launched on bail.
Quite the opposite, Addl. PP argued that applicant/accused is having hyperlinks with international intelligence officer and has been receiving funds from his handler by means of unlawful means and Western Union cash transfers the platform for conveying delicate info, having bearing on nationwide safety and international relations, to his handler primarily based overseas by means of digital means.
It was submitted that through the investigation, it was discovered that the applicant/accused is indulged within the procurement of secret, confidential and delicate paperwork or materials info and conveying the identical to his handlers (Chinese language Intelligence Officer) and in lieu of that, he was getting remuneration by means of hawala transactions/funds by means of shell corporations being operated by means of Chinese language individuals in Delhi.
It was submitted that immediate matter pertains to nationwide safety and delicate paperwork are nonetheless underneath investigation and if the applicant is launched on bail, he could attempt to affect the witnesses which might hamper the honest course of investigation.
Court docket’s Observations
The Court docket disagreed with the defence counsel’s argument that to be able to entice the provisions underneath the OS Act, the paperwork in query have to be essentially secret or categorised.
On this context, the Court docket remarked,
“Reliance is positioned upon the judgment of Hon’ble Apex Court docket within the matter of Govt. of NCT of Delhi v. Jaspal Singh in Criminal Appeal No. 248 of 2003 whereby it has been noticed by the Apex Court docket that the phrase ‘secret’ in clause (c) of sub-section (1) of Part 3 qualifies official code or password and never any sketch, plan, mannequin, article or be aware, doc or info and as per Part 3(2) of the Act when the accused was present in acutely aware possession of the fabric and no believable rationalization has been given for its possession, it needs to be presumed that the identical was obtained or collected by the appellant for a goal prejudicial to the protection or pursuits of the State.”
The Court docket additionally stated,
“Even whether it is presumed for the sake of arguments that the impugned paperwork weren’t discovered to be ‘Labeled Paperwork’ or have been collected from any open supply that doesn’t take the case out of the purview of the OS Act.” (emphasis equipped)
The Court docket was glad that there’s sufficiently grave and incriminating materials accessible on report towards the applicant/accused.
Upon a perusal of the telegraph chat, assertion of witnesses recorded underneath Part 164 Cr.P.C., info retrieved from the Electronic mail account of the applicant accused and the character of paperwork seized from the possession of the accused, the Court docket was of the thought-about opinion that the allegations towards the applicant accused are well-founded.
The Court docket stated,
“Restoration of the delicate paperwork considered towards receipt of cash by the applicant/accused from tainted sources and his relationship with the international brokers goes a good distance towards the plea of his innocence.” (emphasis equipped)
Additional, the Court docket additionally noticed that from the conduct of the members of the family of the applicant accused, it was evident that they’re trying to affect the witnesses.
“Such an strategy can be a trigger of significant concern“, famous the Court docket.
Contemplating the seriousness of allegations, the enormity of cost and the essential juncture of the pending investigation, the Court docket was of the opinion that applicant/accused doesn’t deserve the indulgence of the court docket and his bail utility is bereft of deserves.
The applying was dismissed and was disposed of accordingly.