A Delhi court today framed charges against five persons, including three former naval officers and an ex-IAF Wing Commander, in the 2006 Naval War Room leak case.
Special CBI Judge J P S Malik put on trial former Navy officer Kulbhushan Prashar, former naval commander Vijender Rana, sacked naval commander V K Jha, former IAF Wing Commander Sambha Jee L Surve and arms dealer and Delhi-based businessman Abhishek Verma for the offence of criminal conspiracy under the IPC and under various provisions of the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
The court framed charges after the five accused pleaded not guilty and claimed trial. The court fixed September 8, 9 and 10 for commencing the trial by recording the statements of prosecution witnesses.
The court on July 31 had ordered framing of charges against the accused. The court had said charges of spying by obtaining secret documents, wrongful communication of information and abetment of offences under the OSA have been prima facie made out against them.
"It is held that prima facie offence punishable under section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC read with section 3 (penalties for spying) and section 5 (wrongful communication etc., of information) and section 9 (attempts, incitements, etc. Of commission of offence) of the OSA, is disclosed against accused Prashar, Surve, Rana, Jha and Verma ....," the court had said.
Prime accused Ravi Shankaran is still absconding and has been declared proclaimed offender by the court.
While Prashar, Surve, Rana and Jha are on bail, Verma is in judicial custody and they were present in the court.
The counsel for the accused said that they will challenge this order before a superior court.
The 2006 Navy War Room leak case involves leaking of over 7000 pages of defence information of sensitive nature from the Naval war room and air defence headquarters, having a direct bearing on national security.
The accused in the case have been charge sheeted by CBI for allegedly conspiring to commit offences under the OSA.
CBI had filed the first charge sheet on July 3, 2006 against Shankaran and four ex-defence officials in the case.
In its second charge sheet, the agency had indicted Verma for allegedly conspiring to obtain the defence documents.
Verma was handling Indian affairs of Altas group of industries and had allegedly received remittances to the tune of Rs 6.5 crore, ostensibly for paying bribes to defence personnel for obtaining information of various purchases to be made by the military, the charge sheet had said.
The Atlas group of companies had submitted bids to supply communication equipment required by the armed forces but none of the contracts had been finalised so far, CBI had said.
CBI had registered the case on March 20, 2006, on a reference from Defence Ministry and after scrutiny of report of the inquiry held by Indian Air Force against Surve and the Board of Inquiry conducted by Indian Navy.
Prashar was arrested at the airport here on April 5, 2006, on his return from London, following which nationwide searches were carried out at 20 premises of the six accused. He was later on granted bail.