New Delhi: Eight documents recovered from the accused in the corporate espionage case are classified in nature, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry told a Delhi court on Wednesday.

The Ministry filed two reports in which it said that none of the documents recovered from the five corporate executives and other accused in the case were in public domain.

After perusing the report, the Additional Sessions Judge Raj Kapoor asked the ACP Crime Branch KPS Malhotra, who filed the reports, whether the accused were being charged under the provisions of Official Secrets Act (OSA).

To this, the ACP said the report of Petroleum Ministry was being analysed and if necessary, they could be charged under the OSA provisions when the chargesheet is filed.

“Investigating Officer submits that investigation is likely to be completed and chargesheet shall follow accordingly. Put up the matter for further hearing on April 20,” the judge said.

Despite court’s direction, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has not filed any reply yet.

On April 10, the court had sought reports from the Home and the Petroleum ministries about the nature of documents recovered by the investigators during their probe, saying this would be the last opportunity to file the report and asked them to file it “positively” today.

It had asked the secretaries of the two ministries to file reports after it was informed by the Crime Branch of Delhi Police that they have not yet received any report from Petroleum Ministry on the nature of documents.

The court was hearing the bail petitions of six accused, including five corporate executives, arrested in connection with the case along with others.

During the hearing on April 10, senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, who appeared for some of the accused, had argued that the agency has to justify why they were required to be in custody now.

He also said that offence under OSA was not made out in the case as no documents relating to defence, affecting security and sovereignty of the nation, have been recovered.

The defence counsel, who appeared for the remaining accused, also said that no offence under OSA was made out and the documents recovered were mostly in public domain.

The court had also asked the police as to how it had arrested the accused without ascertaining whether documents recovered were classified or not.

The police had told the court that the crime branch has written to the Ministry on March 11 and a committee has been formed to evaluate the documents.

Five corporate executives — Shailesh Saxena of Reliance Industries Ltd, Vinay Kumar of Essar, Subhash Chandra from Jubilant Energy, Reliance ADAG DGM Rishi Anand and Cairns India’s GM KK Naik, have moved fresh bail pleas after their earlier pleas were dismissed by Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Sanjay Khanagwal on March 24.

One of the co-accused, Virender Kumar, a Defence Ministry staff member, has also moved bail plea.

On February 20, police had arrested the five accused corporate executives alleging that they used to procure the classified documents from other arrested accused Lalta Prasad and Rakesh, and used to pay them.

The documents were then supplied to the firms by these officials for their benefit, the police had alleged.

Besides them, the police had also arrested Rakesh Kumar, Prayas Jain, Shantanu Saikia, Ishwar Singh, Asharam and Rajkumar Chaubey, who are also in judicial custody.

A total of 16 people have been arrested so far in connection with the two separate FIRs lodged by Crime Branch. 

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