Delhi HC refuses to quash CBI case against ex-RAW official for revealing secret info in book

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to quash a CBI case registered against a former RAW official for allegedly revealing secret information in his book “India’s External Intelligence- Secrets of Research and Analysis Wing”.

Justice Mukta Gupta dismissed the petition by Major General (retired) VK Singh seeking quashing of the case against him under the Official Secrets Act, and said whether the revelations in the book were likely to affect the sovereignty, integrity and security of the country was a matter of trial and what prejudices national security cannot be decided by courts.

“It would be a matter of trial after the witnesses are examined to see whether the revelations by the petitioner in his book is likely to affect the sovereignty and integrity of India and/or the security of the State. In view of the discussion aforesaid, this Court finds no merit in the petition. Petition and application are dismissed,” said the court.

The petitioner, who is a former joint secretary of India’s external spy agency, contended his intention to write the book was to highlight issues of lack of accountability and corruption in Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the allegation of revealing secrets harmful to the country’s security and sovereignty were totally baseless and unfounded.

Singh retired from service in June 2002 and his book was published in June 2007. The FIR was registered against him in 2008.

The court observed that although the “entire tenor” of the book highlighted certain irregularities at RAW, the grievance of the CBI was with respect to the use of names of officers, location of the places and recommendations of the Group of Ministers (GOM) etc.

It noted the petitioner reproduced the recommendations of the GOM verbatim and that he has, in another matter, himself said similar revelations made by two other authors and publishers amounted to an offence under the Official Secrets Act.

“This Court …has noted that what prejudices the national security cannot be decided by the courts. Even in the present case, the recommendations of the GOM, which were deleted from publication, have been reproduced verbatim by the petitioner,” it stated.

“It may also be noted that the petitioner himself was of the opinion that similar revelations by the two other authors and publishers amounted to an offence under the Official Secrets Act and thus filed complaint,” it added.

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In the present case, a complaint was filed by Deputy Secretary, Government of India, Cabinet Secretariat with CBI seeking legal action against the petitioner under the provisions of the Officials Secrets Act (OSA).

After the FIR was registered, a final report was filed in the trial court in April 2008 under Sections 3 and 5 of OSA as well as certain provisions of the Indian Penal Code. The trial court was requested to keep the classified documents in sealed cover.

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