Home / Politics / Policy /  Documents leak: Judicial custody for 5 executives

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Tuesday sent five company executives to judicial custody till 5 March in connection with the alleged theft of confidential documents from the petroleum ministry.

Chief metropolitan magistrate Sanjay Khanagwal also sent Virender Kumar, a casual worker at the defence ministry arrested late on Monday night, to police remand for a day.

The crime branch wanted police custody for all six, saying it wanted to find out what benefits if any were received from the allegedly stolen documents and how these documents were being used by the men.

However, the court only allowed police remand for Kumar, who was arrested for allegedly stealing the identity card of an auditor at Indian Defence Accounts Service and giving it to one of the suspects. Kumar, who was not represented by a lawyer, told the court that he did not forge any identity cards but only gave an empty, plain card to someone.

The judge asked the police officers if any documents had been recovered from Kumar’s possession and why he was needed in police custody. A crime branch official said that although no documents were found, Kumar was needed in custody because police wanted to know if he had supplied forged identity cards to other people.

The five executives sent to judicial custody are: Shailesh Saxena, manager, corporate affairs, Reliance Industries Ltd; Subhash Chandra, senior executive, Jubilant Energy; Rishi Anand, deputy general manager, Reliance ADAG (Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group); Vinay Kumar, deputy general manager, Essar; and K.K. Naik, general manager, Cairns India.

They have been booked under sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 though the police is still investigating whether the Official Secrets Act, 1943, can be invoked in this case.

The court asked police if any new recoveries have been made from the five accused, to which the police replied in the negative. The accused, appearing in court on Tuesday, alleged that police had subjected them to violence and had coerced them to sign blank papers.

Including the arrests from the defence ministry on Monday, 13 people have so far been arrested in the corporate espionage case linked to the petroleum ministry. One other person was arrested on Monday for leaking confidential documents from the coal and power ministries.

The alleged racket in stolen documents from the oil and petroleum ministry that were sold to energy consultants and private companies was uncovered with the arrest of two junior oil ministry officials and three middlemen on 19 February.

Police had been tipped off about people trespassing in ministry offices at night, using false identity cards, temporary passes and duplicate office keys.

These were followed by the arrests next day of Santanu Saikia, a former journalist who runs three portals on the energy sector, and Prayas Jain, an energy consultant. Saikia has claimed that he was trying to uncover a 10,000 crore scam and that the documents in his possession were for professional purposes.

Lokesh Sharma, an employee at a Noida-based consulting firm called Infraline Energy, was remanded to five days in police custody on Monday after he was arrested for trespass, theft, criminal conspiracy and fraud as he allegedly possessed sensitive documents belonging to the ministries of coal, power and others, pertaining to the corporate espionage case.

It has been one of the worst-kept secrets in the national capital that key government documents would find their way to private companies and their lobbyists from offices inside Shastri Bhawan, a central Delhi building housing several ministries. What has surprised many is the modus operandi of the suspects, who would break into the rooms late at night with the help of duplicate keys and forged ID cards.

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