Navy information leak case: CBI seeks govt sanction to invoke Official Secrets Act

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Image Source : PTI

Indian Navy Task Group comprising IN Ships Shivalik and Kadmatt, under the Command of Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Fleet. (Representational image)

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday sought sanction from the central government to invoke the Official Secrets Act in the case of leak of sensitive documents related to the acquisition of three hulls of submarines being deliberated in the navy and other related information, officials said.

On September 2, the CBI had carried out raids on retired naval officers Commodore Randeep Singh and Commander Satwinder Jeet Singh after getting information that the latter was going to share crucial details related to a meeting in the navy on the procurement of “three hulls”.

S J Singh, who was working in the Directorate of Submarine Acquisition (DSMAQ) before taking VRS on July 31, 2021, allegedly provided regular information on internal deliberations to Randeep Singh in return for pecuniary advantage, the FIR has alleged.

The agency has accused the two officers of obtaining illicit money for themselves as well as for others by sharing “secret information of internal files for processing and passing of tender related to procurement and maintenance” of the Navy with private international companies, according to sources privy to the FIR.

S J Singh has been leaking “internal information regarding operations/procurement from various Navy offices” to Randeep Singh who was working as middleman in return for huge bribes, the CBI alleged.

The CBI had received an input that on August 16 Randeep Singh had sought “the main report of a meeting held in the Navy office regarding the procurement of three hulls” from S J Singh, the FIR alleged.

S J Singh sought clearance of his previous dues from Randeep Singh before handing over documents related to the meeting, it alleged.

Randeep Singh had promised S J Singh that all his previous dues totalling Rs 2.9 lakh will be cleared in the September 2 meeting, it said.

During the searches, the CBI which had initially registered a case of corruption had recovered sensitive documents related to at least two naval projects following which a recommendation was made to invoke the Official Secrets Act in the case, they said.

The CBI mentioned it in a special court during the bail hearing of the accused on Tuesday.

Last week, the CBI had filed two charge sheets — one against Randeep Singh and S J Singh and the second against serving Commander Ajeet Kumar Pandey, three executives of Hyderabad-based Allen Reinforced Plastics Ltd and the company in addition to the two retired officers accused in the first charge sheet.

The executives of the Hyderabad-based firm named in the charge sheet are Executive Director T P Shastri and Directors N B Rao and K Chandrasekhar.

The CBI has arrested six persons — the two accused retired officers, Pandey, another serving officer under him and two private individuals — in an operation which started on September 3.

The agency filed the charge sheet within 60 days of first arrests made on September 3 to ensure that the accused do not get easy bail, officials said.

One of the naval officers under custody has not been named in the charge sheet and may be named in the supplementary charge sheet to be filed soon.

The CBI has to file a charge sheet within 60 days of arrest of accused in corruption cases, else they become eligible for bail. The limit for special crime cases is 90 days.

ALSO READ: CBI chargesheets 2 Navy commanders, 4 officers for leaking confidential submarine information

ALSO READ: Commander-rank Navy officer among 5 arrested by CBI for leaking confidential information

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