In 2018, Official Secrets Act invoked in 5 cases

Complaint filed against engineer

Updated - March 28, 2019 12:13 am IST

Published - March 28, 2019 12:04 am IST - New Delhi

Ministry of Home Affairs. File

Ministry of Home Affairs. File

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued five prosecution sanction orders last year under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), 1923.

On October 8, Nishant Agrawal an engineer working at the BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited centre in Nagpur was arrested on charges of illegally possessing highly sensitive and secret documents, the Uttar Pradesh police alleged.

Police recently filed a complaint (technical term for chargehseet under OSA) in a Nagpur court against the accused but did not press any charges under the British-era Act for sending the sensitive information to Pakistan, a claim widely reported in media. The Nagpur court also sought legal advice on the complaint.

“We got the prosecution sanction from MHA last December. We filed a complaint against him only for possession of secret documents of BrahMos missile in his personal computer,” said Asim Arun, Inspector General, Anti Terrorist Squad, U.P.

A senior police officer said Mr. Agrawal stored the information in his personal computer and he had also downloaded certain web-based applications which launched a spyware in the machine.

“Through the spyware, some Pakistani agents stole the crucial documents from his computer but we have not booked him for that. He should have known and taken adequate precautions. We have charged him only to the extent we can prove,” said the official. Mr. Agrawal’s bail plea was rejected on Tuesday.

In 2015, the Centre constituted a committee to examine the provisions of the British-era Act. The committee comprising Secretaries of Home, Law and Personnel held meetings but couldn’t reach a conclusion.

Last year, the Uttar Pradesh police arrested Achutyanand Mishra, a Border Security Force (BSF) constable for allegedly sharing sensitive information with a Pakistani ISI agent who posed as a “defence reporter.”

Mr. Mishra befriended the woman after he got a friend request on Facebook, the police alleged. He was also booked under the OSA.

As per the latest data available with the National Crime Records Bureau, the number of cases registered under the OSA was 11, 9 and 30 in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. Since its inception, the OSA has not been amended even once.

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