The Supreme Court has upheld the government’s decision to sack two naval officers facing criminal trial in the 2005 Navy war room leak case. A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra refused to intervene with the 2013 order of Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) rejecting the contention of senior naval officers, Commanders Vijendra Rana and V K Jha, that the department could not have discharged them without a show-cause notice and an opportunity to present their case. The bench found no merit in their petition and upheld the government’s decision regarding their dismissal from the armed forces. “We do not find it a fit case to intervene,” the bench, also comprising A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar, said.
Rana and Jha were removed from service in October 2005 after a board of inquiry (BoI) held that they were involved in providing sensitive information regarding defence forces to outside agencies.
The 2005 Navy War Room leak case involves 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 leak of sensitive information came to light when an officer was found in possession of an unauthorised pen-drive containing secrets of defence forces.
A BoI was convened and the sacking of the two officers was recommended. The government accepted the recommendation and dismissed them on October 26, 2005.
The officers challenged the decision before the AFT which too dismissed their plea on June 30, 2010. They then approached the apex court.
The government counsel argued before the apex court that the two officers used to provide sensitive information to unauthorised agencies and endangered the country’s security.
Rana, Jha, former naval officer Kulbhushan Prashar, former IAF Wing Commander Sambha Jee L Surve and alleged arms dealer and Delhi-based businessman Abhishek Verma are facing trial in a special CBI court in Delhi the case for the offence of criminal conspiracy under IPC and under various provisions of Official Secrets Act.
While the accused are out on bail, prime accused Ravi Shankaran is still absconding and has been declared a proclaimed offender by the court.