Stating that an offence committed against national security did not “deserve” lenient punishment, a Special Court on Wednesday sentenced Captain (Retired) Salem Singh Rathore to seven-year rigorous imprisonment in connection with the 2006 Navy war room leak case.
Pronouncing the sentence, Special Judge S K Aggarwal said the documents found in Rathore’s possession belonged to the Defence Ministry and had the potential of being “directly or indirectly useful to the enemy in one way or the other”.
The Captain (retd) was convicted of spying under the Official Secrets Act on July 7. Another accused, Commander (Retired) Jarnail Singh Kalra, was acquitted in the matter.
In its chargesheet, the CBI had highlighted that various secret documents, pertaining to defence of India, were recovered from Rathore’s possession, for which the convict could not account for.
While the public prosecutor argued that Rathore did not deserve any leniency, the counsel for the 63-year-old retired Captain cited his age and years of “unblemished” service while pleading for leniency.
The court, however, said appropriate sentencing of the convict in this case should be such that it left a “deterrent effect” on others.
“The convict does not deserve lenient punishment as he has played with the security of his own nation. Being a defence personnel his primary job was to even keep his life at stake for the unity, integrity and security of India, but he has acted otherwise,” the court said.
The 2006 Navy war room leak case involved 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.