Court extends scribe’s custody in espionage case

Rajeev Sharma  

A Delhi court on Monday extended by seven days the custodial interrogation of freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma, arrested in an espionage case under the Official Secrets Act.

He was produced before Metropolitan Magistrate Pawan Singh Rajawat and the investigators said his further custodial interrogation was necessary since he has to be confronted with two of his associates: a Chinese woman and a Nepalese man, whose police custody was also extended till September 28.

The police submitted that they have written to the Ministry of Defence to ascertain the custodian of the classified documents that were allegedly recovered from Mr. Sharma, and they have to confront him with digital documents recovered from his devices. A reply is awaited from the Ministry, added the police.

Senior advocate Adish Aggarwala, who is representing the journalist, said Delhi Police was engaging in delay tactics. As per the police, they recovered the documents on September 14 and during six days of custody they could have approached the Defence Ministry, but the police deliberately delayed it, said the lawyer.

The bail application will be heard on September 28.

Meanwhile, Press Club of India (PCI) president Anand K. Sahay said: “We are astounded to hear of the arrest of Mr. Sharma, a well-known independent journalist of long standing and a member of the PCI. This is on account of the dubious track record of the Special Branch. More generally also, the record of Delhi Police is hardly a shining one”.

“On the basis of the statement of the police released to the media, we have no hesitation in saying that the police action is high-handed and may be inspired by obscure or questionable considerations,” he added.

‘Preposterous arrests’

“Of late, Delhi Police, including Special Branch, has made preposterous arrests under the lawless law called Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, in which the word of the government is enough to keep an innocent person behind bars for long periods. These have happened in matters relating to anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests and the carefully designed communal killings in the so-called February 2020 riots in north-east Delhi,” the PCI stated.

Mr. Sharma’s arrest also appears mind-boggling as he wrote on strategic affairs and may well have accessed routinely over-classified information on the Internet that is in the public domain, said the organisation.

Mr. Sahay also talked about the wrongful arrests in 2002 of Iftikhar Gilani, a senior journalist with Kashmir Times; and a Delhi journalist who wrote for Iran’s official news agency. Both journalists were subsequently released after the cases turned out to be bogus, the PCI stated.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 12:12:51 PM |

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