The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought a status report from the Delhi Police Special Cell on a bail plea of freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma arrested under the Official Secrets Act in an espionage case.
Justice Anu Malhotra directed for the status report after Sharma’s counsel senior advocate Dr. Adish C Aggarwala and advocates Aditya Singh and Akshat Goel moved the bail plea and listed the matter for further hearing on December 2. The police counsel informed the court that a charge sheet will be filed in the case on or before December 12.
Claiming innocence, the bail plea said that a false case has been registered against him and that the allegations in the FIR prima facie do not disclose any offense.
“The documents/information allegedly seized from the petitioner are general documents and nothing relating to the Official Secrets Act. It is humbly submitted that this court may itself peruse the said documents,” the plea said.
“Document(s) seized are general documents and do not have any bearing on national security and foreign relations. Any general document cannot be termed as a threat, even prima facie, without a perusal of the said document. It is strange that the police has captioned 79 documents as secret defense documents without confirming it with the Defence Ministry,” the plea added.
“No one from the Ministry has been named in the case. A person is guilty if there are substantial accusations along with adequate proof. Any act of fair journalism can’t be scuttled by imposing the draconian provisions of the OSA,” it added.
Earlier, the trial court had refused to grant bail to Sharma after noting the “seriousness” of the charges against him.
The trial court had also noted that from the conduct of his family members, it was evident that they were attempting to influence the witnesses and added that such an approach was a cause of serious concern.
On September 14, the Special Cell had arrested 61-year-old Sharma for allegedly working for Chinese intelligence. During a search of his house, a laptop, some alleged confidential documents related to Indian defense, and incriminating papers were seized. He is currently in judicial custody.
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 were registered on September 13.
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 allegedly disclosed that he was about to send the seized documents to his handlers.
A Chinese woman Qing Shi and her Nepalese partner Sher Singh alias Raj Bohra were also arrested on a charge of giving Sharma huge amounts of money, routed through hawala channels. They are also lodged in the Tihar Central Jail here.