New Delhi: A Delhi court today awarded seven-year rigorous imprisonment to retired Captain Salam Singh Rathore in an offshoot of the 2006 Navy War Room leak case, saying he did not deserve leniency as he has committed an offence against national security.
Special CBI Judge S K Aggarwal handed down the jail term to Rathore for the offence of spying under the Official Secrets Act, saying the documents found in his possession belonged to Defence Ministry and were “directly or indirectly useful to the enemy in one way or the other”.
The other accused in the case – Commander (Retd) Jarnail Singh Kalra- was acquitted by the court.
While awarding the sentence to Rathore, the court considered the submission of the prosecutor that several secret documents were recovered from the possession of Rathore which he could not account for.
“Here in this case, the offence committed by the convict was not only an offence against the society, but it was an offence against the very national security. The documents found in possession of the convict pertains to the defence department of India and are … directly or indirectly useful to an enemy in one way or the other.
“The convict does not deserve lenient punishment as he has played with the security of his own nation. Being a defence personnel, his primary job was to even keep his life at stake for the unity, integrity and security of India, but he has acted otherwise,” the judge said.
The judge also said that sentencing of the convict should act as a deterrent so that no one commits such an offence.
“This court feels that the appropriate sentencing of the convict in this case should be such that it should leave a deterrent effect so that the offence which threatens the very security of India may not be committed by anyone in India,” the judge said.
The CBI, in its separate charge sheet filed in the case, had alleged that it had recovered 17 official documents from Rathore’s possession relating to various issues. Nine of these documents were secret, four restricted and one confidential, it alleged.
The agency, while seeking the maximum punishment of 14 years for Rathore, had argued that he had committed offence against national security and deserved no leniency.
However, the convict sought leniency from the court, contending that he has already spent three years behind bars and has been facing trial for 13 years.
His counsel said Rathore was a 63-year-old senior citizen who has rendered 28 years of unblemished service in defence.
He also submitted that Rathore had participated in anti-smuggling activities during his posting, for which he was appreciated by Indian Navy and the central government.
The 2006 Navy War Room leak case involved leakage of over 7,000 pages of sensitive defence information from the Naval War Room and the Air Headquarters, having a direct bearing on national security.
The accused, who are facing trial in the main case for the offence of criminal conspiracy under IPC and under provisions of Official Secrets Act, are former naval Lieutenant Kulbhushan Parashar, former Commander Vijender Rana, sacked naval Commander V K Jha, former IAF Wing Commander Sambha Jee L Surve and Delhi-based businessman and arms dealer Abhishek Verma. All the accused are out on bail.