The Delhi High Court has upheld the five-year jail term awarded to a former Indian Army official by a trial court for passing secret documents to a Pakistani embassy official in 2007.
Justice S Muralidhar also pulled up the investigating officer for "non-association of public witnesses" in the case during the trial and said that Delhi Police should have made "more serious efforts to record the names of the people who refuse to be part of the investigation".
In April 2010, the trial court had awarded five-year jail term to former Lance Naik Mohd Naseem after holding him guilty of various offences under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
"The court finds that even without going into the aspect of whether the photocopy of the booklet, which was described as a restricted document being found in possession of the appellant (Mohd Naseem), would attract Sections...of the OSA, the fact that the appellant was found in possession of Ex.P5 (secret document) was, by itself, sufficient to bring home the guilt of the accused for the offences under the OSA.
"In that view of the matter, no grounds have been made for interference with the impugned judgment dated April 7, 2010 passed by the learned trial Court," the judge said.
Naseem had come in appeal before the high court against the trial court decision, which had also imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on the convict, besides his jail term.
Naseem, a resident of Poonch district in Jammu and Kashmir, was a Lance Naik with J&K Light Infantry when Delhi Police's Special Cell sleuths nabbed him on June 29, 2007 from Shastri Park Metro station here.
The police had informed the court that Naseem was found in possession of a set of documents which were meant to be supplied to a Pakistan embassy official. The documents were termed as prejudicial to the safety, security and interest of the country.
Following his conviction in 2010, Naseem was dismissed from service.
Police had further contended in the court that Naseem had himself during the investigation disclosed that for the past 18 months he was in contact with one Ali Jadoon of the Pakistani Embassy and had been supplying information relating to defence matters to him for a price.
Naseem claimed that he was falsely implicated in the case and said that he was compelled to write the said document while in police custody.
However, the court turned down his plea and said, "he has not been able to make good this defence. No complaint was made at the earliest opportunity before the court although he was represented by counsel right from the second hearing of the case."
"In the circumstances, the question of Naseem being compelled to write the said document while in police custody does not find support from the evidence on record. The fact of a handwritten document, disclosing the details of movement of troops, being found in possession of the appellant certainly attracts the offences of the OSA," it added.