Weeks after invoking the Official Secrets Act (OSA) against two persons for recording proceedings at a police station, the Pimpri-Chinchwad Police are now in the process of dropping the espionage charges. Police are expected to soon submit a report to the court in this regard.
On October 26, officials from Dehu Road police station had booked two persons on charges of ‘spying’ under the OSA, which is primarily an anti-espionage legislation, after one of them recorded on phone the proceedings at the police station in connection with the preventive action being taken against the other person. Police had booked Kailas Nathuram Chavan, who was called to the police station for preventive action, and his friend Tushar Chavan under the Official Secrets Act sections 3 (penalties for spying) and 7 (interfering with officers of the police or members of the Armed Forces of the Union).
Following the registration of the case, senior officers from Pimpri-Chinchwad Police had indicated that invoking the OSA was uncalled for in this case, and was the result of an oversight. The Indian Express has now learnt that police are in the process of submitting a report to the court seeking removal of the OSA provisions from the offence. However, charges of not cooperating with official work of the police, which is a non-cognizable offence, will be retained and the court will take further action on it, a police official told The Indian Express.
Police officials had maintained that an investigation would be conducted as per procedure and action will follow. As part of the investigation, the statements of the two suspects were recorded and the phone recording one of them had done was checked, following authentication from a cyber expert. “There was nothing in the recording that would call for prosecution for espionage under the OSA. So, after consultation with senior officials, a call was taken to drop the OSA charges and retain the non-cognizable offence. The proposal in this regard was initially sent to the office of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) overseeing the police station. After the nod from ACP’s office, it has now been sent to the office of Deputy Commissioner of Police for approval, following which it will be submitted to the court. The court will rule on dropping the OSA charges,” an officer said on condition of anonymity.
What happened earlier
On October 26, Kailas Nathuram Chavan, a resident of Dehu near Pune, was called to Dehu Road police station for preventive action against him. Under various legal provisions like Criminal Procedure Code, Bombay Police Act or Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act, police have the power to take preventive action against persons if they are prima facie a danger to law and order based on their past record. Chavan was called to the police station because of previous criminal cases registered against him.
As part of the procedure, he was called to the police station to fill up some details and submit a bond to the police authorities. When Chavan come to the police station, he was accompanied by Tushar Chavan. When an on-duty constable was completing various formalities and paper work related to the preventive action, Tushar Chavan allegedly tried to suggest a “mutual compromise” with some underhand dealings. While the constable kept ignoring these provocations, another constable observed that he was recording the conversation on his phone. Subsequently, the duo were booked under the OSA.
Section 3 of the OSA, which had been invoked in this case, specifically pertains to collection or dissemination of details ‘intended to be, directly or indirectly, useful to an enemy’ or ‘which relates to a matter the disclosure of which is likely to affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State or friendly relations with foreign states.’
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