The crackdown in the corporate espionage case led to the arrest of another person today for allegedly possessing “secret” documents of various ministries, bringing the number of those in police net to 13 even as four accused alleged they were forced to sign on blank papers.
The fresh arrest was of Lokesh, working in a Noida-based consultancy firm, from whose possession “sensitive” documents pertaining to ministries of Coal, Power and others were allegedly recovered, police told a Delhi court.
He was produced in Dwarka court before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Satish Kumar Arora who remanded him to five days police custody on the ground that he has to be quizzed to unearth the conspiracy and for arresting others associated with him in the case.
The other four accused, who were arrested earlier in the case relating to leakage of documents from Petroleum Ministry, were produced in Patiala House court before Metropolitan Magistrate (MM) Dheeraj Mittal who remanded them to judicial custody till March 6.
During the hearing before the MM, accused Lalta Prasad, Rakesh Kumar, Prayas Jain and Shantanu Saikia claimed that they were forced to sign on blank papers by the police during their custodial interrogation.
“We have been made to sign on blank papers. What is going on ?” said Saikia while being escorted to the courtroom in police custody.
“I never did what is alleged against me. I have been a journalist for past 30 years and I have been victimised,” he told reporters.
They were produced before the court after expiry of their police custody and Crime Branch of Delhi Police moved a plea before the magistrate saying they be sent to 11-day judicial custody as they were not required for further interrogation at this stage.
“He (Saikia) has told me now that he was made to sign five-six blank papers during police custody,” Saikia’s counsel told the court after which counsel appearing for the other three accused also submitted the same.
“It has been submitted by counsel appearing for accused that they (accused) have been made to sign five-six blank papers on different locations of the papers,” the magistrate noted in the order.
Police arrested Lokesh after lodging a separate FIR for offences under the IPC sections of trespass, theft, criminal conspiracy and fraud.
Lokesh was produced before the court where police sought his custodial interrogation contending that various “sensitive documents” of the ministries of Coal, Power and others were recovered from his possession and he was needed to be quizzed about it.
“Various sensitive documents of Ministries of Coal, Power and other ministries have been recovered. A fake government ID card has also been recovered from Lokesh ,” the police told the court adding that they were examining whether provisions of the Official Secrets Act are made out in the case.
The counsel appearing for Lokesh opposed the police plea but the court remanded the accused to five days police custody.
In a separate hearing, the counsel appearing for Lalta Prasad told the court that his client should be medically examined as he has having some problem in his ears due to the alleged injury caused during custodial interrogation.
On a plea by the defence counsel, the magistrate directed the investigating officer to get the case diary signed by the court.
“All the four accused are remanded to judicial custody till March 6,” the court said and also allowed the submission of the defence counsel seeking some time to meet with their clients after the proceedings.
On the separate pleas filed by the counsel appearing for Jain and Prasad seeking supply of medicine and medical check up in judicial custody, the court directed the Tihar Jail authorities to look into the matter as per jail manual.
The Crime Branch had earlier told the court that these four persons, along with other three arrested persons, were passing certain “sensitive documents” to some corporate houses to benefit them.
The other three accused — Ishwar Singh, Asharam and Rajkumar Chaubey, were on February 20 remanded to judicial custody for two weeks.
In its first FIR, Police had said that from the possession of accused Rakesh Kumar, photocopies of sensitive documents including input on Finance Minister’s budget speech have been recovered.
“Photocopy of documents with heading input material on National Gas Grid for inclusion in Finance Minister’s budget speech 2015-16,” it had said in its FIR filed in the case.
The police had on February 19 arrested two Oil Ministry officials and three middlemen in connection with alleged leaking of classified government documents to energy companies for money.
Besides them, five senior executives from top energy firms identified as Shailesh Saxena from RIL, Vinay Kumar from Essar, KK Naik from Cairns, Subhash Chandra from Jubilant Energy and Rishi Anand from ADAG Reliance were also arrested in the case and they were earlier remanded to police custody till tomorrow by the court.