Court acquits retired government officer in 1987 espionage case

A former senior government officer accused of leaking secret defence documents has been acquitted in a 31-year-old espionage case by a Delhi court which said the CBI had failed to establish that they were classified “secret” documents.

The court absolved N W Nerurkar, who was working as an advisor to the Department of Electronics under the Centre in 1987, and another person, Aditya Kumar Jajodia, in the case and said the agency had failed to prove a conspiracy angle.

The two were acquitted of the offences of criminal conspiracy under the IPC and penalties for spying and wrongful communication of information under the Official Secrets Act.

The CBI had filed a case on April 17, 1987, after it received a complaint from a courier company in Delhi that certain secret documents related to defence matters were being dispatched by the accused.

Dr Narayan Waman Nerurkar, Brigadier (Retd) Rajpal Singh Deol, Delhi-based firm William Jacks’ Krishna Kumar Jajodia, his son Aditya Kumar Jajodia and their employee Kizhuvara Venugopalan were named as the accused in the case.

While Venugopalan was discharged by the court earlier, Deol and Krishna Jajodia died during the trial and proceedings against them were abated.

Special CBI Judge Kamini Lau said in the recent judgement that there were a large number of missing links and a “total failure” on the prosecution’s part to prove that the documents on “Operational Requirement of Utility helicopters for the Army” and the “User/Evaluation Trial Report on RATAC-S Battlefield Surveillance Radar (BFSR), Phase-I” were declared classified “secret” documents.

The court said even if it was assumed that these documents were “secret” notes, the possibility of their leakage from other sources could not be ruled out.

It said just because the word “secret” was written on the document, it would not make it so, particularly when the details of the equipment and its literature were readily available and published in magazines and newspapers and global tenders were invited.

The court, while acquitting Nerurkar, said the searches conducted by the investigating agency did not result in the recovery of any incriminating material against him to connect him with the alleged offence.

Regarding Aditya Jajodia, it said the recovery of a xeroxed copy of the note from the bedroom of accused Krishna Jajodia did not incriminate his son.

The court said due care and caution had not been taken to keep the concerned documents in safe custody and the approach of keeping them open showed that they did not contain any strategic or sensitive information which would be useful to any enemy or the disclosure of which was likely to affect the sovereignty and integrity of India.

According to the CBI, the courier company, Trident Express, had informed it that two packets were picked up for dispatch from Jajodias’ firm.

On opening the packet, CBI officials had allegedly found that information about the Army’s battlefield surveillance radar was being sent to Marc De Saint Denis in Paris.

Another packet was addressed to JWH Weavers of the Netherlands and contained draft letters with details of a radar to detect low-level enemy aircraft, it had claimed.

It had alleged that the Jajodias were engaged in buying and selling secret reports of equipment to be inducted into the Army and that the father and son were also close to Nerurkar and Deol, who was a Brigadier in the Directorate of Weapons and Equipment.

Nerurkar had claimed innocence and said he was falsely implicated in the case and had never visited the Jajodias. He stated he had never seen the concerned documents and it was manipulated by the officials with the connivance of CBI officials.

Aditya Jajodia had also claimed innocence and said the prosecution sanction to prosecute him was not legal and valid.

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