New Delhi: Freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma, who was arrested under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for allegedly passing on secret information to the Chinese intelligence, on Thursday moved the court for the second time, seeking bail in the case on the grounds that a ‘false case’ has been registered against him.
On September 14, the Special Cell of Delhi Police had arrested 61-year-old Sharma for allegedly working for Chinese intelligence. During the house search, a laptop, some confidential documents related to Indian defence and incriminating papers were seized. He is currently in judicial custody.
The bail application filed by senior advocate Adish C. Aggarwala on behalf of Sharma stated, “Applicant is innocent, and a false case has been registered against the applicant. The allegations in FIR prima facie do not disclose any offence.”
The alleged documents do not disclose anything related to the Official Secrets Act or convey any sensitive information having bearings on national security or foreign relation, the application added.
“Any general document cannot be termed as a threat, even prima facie, without perusal of the said documents,” it said.
He further submitted that the police in a pre-planned manner have not only tried to make false seizure memo, but also have not conducted investigation in an unbiased manner.
“The legality of the search conducted has a direct bearing on the present bail application as liberty of the applicant cannot be deprived just to wait for the charge-sheet to be filed and then examining the legality,” the application added.
This is the second time the accused has moved the court seeking bail in the case. The court had earlier dismissed his bail application on the grounds that the preliminary electronic evidence collected by the investigating agency pointed towards involvement of the accused in commission of offence under the Officials Secrets Act.
While denying him the bail, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pawan Singh Rajawat had noted that if a journalist, who is an important brick in the fourth pillar of democracy, decides to act with the intention to destabilize and negatively impact the sustainability and survival of democracy, it would be the darkest day in the free press movement.
Pursuant to Sharma’s arrest, a Chinese woman, Qing Shi, and her Nepalese partner, Sher Singh alias Raj Bohra, were also arrested as they were found supplying Sharma with huge amounts of money, routed through hawala channels, for conveying sensitive information to the Chinese intelligence. They are also in Tihar Jail.
According to the police, an input was received from an intelligence agency that Sharma had links with a foreign intelligence officer and was receiving funds from his handler through illegal means and Western Union Money Transfer for conveying sensitive information on national security and foreign relations.
A case under Sections 3 (possession of any sketch, plan, model, article, note, document or information, which relates to munitions of war), 4 (communications with foreign agents) and 5 (wrongful communication of information) of the Official Secrets Act was registered on September 13 and Sharma was arrested the next day.
On interrogation, Sharma had allegedly disclosed his involvement in the procurement of secret and sensitive information and conveying the same to his Chinese handlers Michael and George, based in Kunming, China, through different digital channels. He further disclosed that he was about to send the recovered secret documents to his handlers.