Executives from five leading energy companies, a former journalist and an energy consultant were arrested Friday, taking to 12 the number of arrests made so far in connection with the alleged leak of official documents from the Petroleum Ministry. Police sources said two senior officials from the ministry were also under the scanner.
While producing seven of the accused in a Delhi court, police said recoveries suggested that papers related to Coal and Power ministries too had been leaked. Police sources said the executives were recipients of official documents that were allegedly leaked from the Petroleum Ministry.
Former journalist Santanu Saikia, who heads the Indian Petro Group, and Pryas Jain, CEO of oil and gas consultancy Metis India, were sent to police custody until February 23 along with two others arrested a day earlier, Rakesh Kumar and Lalta Prasad.
Three others — government employees Asharam and Ishwar Singh, and driver Raj Kumar Chaubey — will be in judicial custody for 14 days. Police sources said they had recovered keys to offices of two senior officials in the ministry from Asharam and Singh and both officials were also on the police radar.
In a late night development, police arrested Shailesh Saxena, Manager Corporate Affairs, RIL; Subhash Chandra, Senior Executive, Jubilant Energy; Rishi Anand, Deputy General Manager, Reliance ADAG; Vinay Kumar, Deputy General Manager, Essar; and, K K Naik, General Manager, Cairn India. They have been arrested and booked under IPC sections 411 (receiver of stolen property) and 120B (criminal conspiracy), police said.
A Reliance Power spokesperson said: “We are not aware of the circumstances in which one of our junior employees has allegedly been arrested. We will ensure full cooperation with the investigative agencies. The company adheres to the highest standards of corporate governance, and does not support any unlawful practices.”
Sources in the police said the five executives were among 12 questioned Thursday and that they had received documents leaked from the ministry. Police are still examining the documents to determine the extent of the leak.
Police Commissioner B S Bassi said: “We have arrested two energy consultants, Santanu Saikia and Pryas Jain, and more arrests are likely. We have still not included the Official Secrets Act in the FIR as the documents recovered from the accused need to be analysed to see if they fall under the ambit of the Act. Employees of companies who received these documents have also been questioned.”
Police claimed Saikia and Jain used to obtain official documents from the ministry staff, “process the documents and prepare notes” before passing them on to petroleum and energy majors in return for money.
Police sources said Ishwar Singh had been working as a ‘night guard’ for ten years and used to facilitate the leaks. “Since he had the keys to offices, he would steal the documents. They (Ishwar and Asharam) used to break into offices, access the documents and photocopy them. They would spend two hours inside the office at night,” an officer said.
Asharam, peon in the office of Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, is the father of Lalta Prasad and Rakesh Kumar. According to police, he would “switch off the CCTV cameras” in the ministry office. Police said Lalta Prasad and Rakesh had paid Rs 4,000 each to also obtain fake entry cards.