Navy war room case: Apex court issues notice to CBI

Monday, February 14, 2011

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court Monday issued notice to the CBI on a petition of Commander (Retd) Jarnail Singh Kalra and Lieutenant Commander (Retd) Salam Singh Rathore, who sought access to the confidential documents on which the agency has relied for their prosecution in Navy war room leak case.

The apex court bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after it was told that the prosecution case entirely rested on these confidential documents and must be given to the accused to defend themselves.

The apex court also issued notice to the investigating agency on a petitioners plea for the stay of the trial court proceedings till the apex court disposes of the current petition that challenges a Delhi High Court order.

Kalra and Rathore challenged the high court verdict that the court cannot compel the state to give those documents which the state considers to be confidential and the disclosure of which was prejudicial to the interest of the state.

The high court held that the accused at the end of the trial can argue how the non-disclosure of the documents resulted in the miscarriage of justice, if any, and convince the trial court about their stand, but cannot insist that the copies of the secret documents must be supplied to them.

Justice Misra wondered why the documents were not being made available to the accused.

Justice Katju said that the documents under contention were covered under the Official Secrets Act.

In the course of the investigation in the Navy war room leak case, the CBI came to know that Rathore was in contact with main accused Kulbhushan Parashar.

The investigating agency found that the recovery of alleged incriminating documents from the houses of Kalra and Rathore was in no way linked to the Navy war room leak case.

The CBI told this to the high court in its revision petition in 2007.

The Navy war room leak case, which came to light in 2005, revolves around navy officers allegedly passing on sensitive information to retired naval officers, who were middlemen for various arms firms.

The apex court has given the investigating agency four weeks to respond to its notice.

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