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.

Housing scam: Delhi court acquits ex-minister Thungon

 Former union minister P K Thungon, facing trial for 21 years in a corruption case relating to allotment of government quarters, has been acquitted by a special court which said the CBI has failed to prove that he abused his official position.

Besides 71-year-old Thungon, the court also acquitted 14 others, including several government officials, in the case while three accused died during the trial.

Special CBI Judge Kamini Lau held that the prosecution has not been able to prove that Thungon, the then minister of State (MoS) for Urban Development, had abused his official position and directly entertained applications for out-of-turn allotment of government accommodation.

The court, in its 440-page judgement, said the CBI has also failed to prove that he had used as genuine forged application forms wherein forgery relating to particulars of quarter, scale of pay and date of priority were made by conspirators.

During the trial, former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Thungon had claimed that he was innocent and had been falsely implicated being a victim of political vendetta and that he had not violated any rules while discharging his duties.

He further said that he was a senior citizen and have been forced to live in Delhi away from his native place Arunachal Pradesh for last over 22 years due to this case.

All other accused had also pleaded innocence in the case.

The court said there was insufficient material to hold accused Thungon, Varinder Arora, T T Kumarasamay (personal staff of minister), Nima Tshering (ex-MLA of Arunachal Pradesh), Umesh Joshi, Vijaya Daksh, Ved Prakash Kaushik, Sunil Khosla, Roshan Lal Rana, Mahender Singh, Shiv Prasad, Vir Bhan, Chandan Singh Rana, Narender Dhyani and Raj Kumar Joshi guilty of the charges.

It said accused Ashok Kumar Gupta, Narender Kumar Sabharwal and Surati Lal Yadav died during the trial and the proceedings against them were abated.

According to records, the case was lodged in 1996, a charge sheet was filed by CBI in 2003 and charges for the alleged offences of forgery, criminal conspiracy and corruption were framed in 2009.

Thungon along with others was facing trial for alleged irregularities in allotment of government quarters. A graft case was then lodged by the CBI against 18 people.

According to the CBI, during 1993-95, when Thungon was the Minister of State of Urban Development, he along with other accused had allegedly subverted the entire system of allotment of residential houses to government servants.

It was alleged that out-of-turn allotments was being made in such large numbers and for such a long period that this system had virtually replaced the official prescribed norms.

The court said the prosecution has not been able to prove that all the accused had entered into a criminal conspiracy to obtain wrongful gain for themselves out-of-turn allotment of government accommodation by forging the applications.

It said the CBI had failed to prove that “any of the accused had exercised their influence over Thungon for getting the out-of-turn allotment of government accommodation sanctioned” and the public servants had abused their official position or had obtained any illegal gratification.

The court said the documents showed that Thungon had written “may be allotted” which does not mean any direction to the Directorate of Estates to allot the quarters illegally or in violation of the rules and norms as alleged by the CBI.