Thursday, November 30, 2023

Delhi High Court grants bail to Nepal national arrested for leaking sensitive information to China

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The High Court of Delhi has granted bail to a Nepal national, who was arrested for allegedly leaking sensitive information to intelligence officers of China.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Vikas Mahajan granted bail to the accused on a personal bond of Rs 10,000 with a surety of similar amount, subject to approval by the trial court/Chief Metropolitan Magistrate/Duty Magistrate.

The High Court directed Singh to surrender his passport and not to leave the city without prior permission of the court.

It observed that the petitioner’s name was neither mentioned in the First Investigation Report (FIR) nor in any of the confidential documents. 

Noting that investigation in the case has already completed and no recovery was to be made from the petitioner, the High Court observed that keeping him in custody would not serve the case of prosecution in any manner. 

It further observed that the prosecution has nowhere brought to the notice of the court that Singh was a habitual offender or involved in any other cases. 

The Single-Judge Bench said the petitioner has remained in custody since September 19, 2020, while Rajeev Sharma, main accused in the case, has already been released on default bail. The allegations and arguments can be presented during the trial proceedings in the court, it added.

The petitioner contended that he was falsely implicated in this case. He said since he is uneducated, he was taken advantage of by just providing 0.01 percent shares in the company.

Opposing the bail, the Counsel appearing for the Delhi Police contended that the offence alleged was serious in nature as it adversely impacted the sovereignty and integrity of the nation. 

Other grounds were that since the accused was a Nepal national, there was constant flight risk, along with the chances of influencing witnesses and tampering with the evidence.

A case was registered against Rajeev Sharma, a Delhi-based journalist in 2020 under the Official Secrets Act, 1923. He was arrested on September 14, 2020. 

It was alleged that Sharma shared sensitive information through hawala channels and Western Union Money transfer platform, which was a threat to national security and friendly relations with foreign states. 

The petitioner was also arrested on September 19, 2020 for being Director of the company that was sending money to Sharma and for being part of the alleged conspiracy.

Further investigation by Delhi Police revealed that two Chinese nationals – Jhang Cheng (Suraj) and Zhang Lixia (Usha) were running a company known as MZ Mall, which was providing financial gain to Sharma for disclosing nation’s sensitive information to officials of another country.

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