Espionage case: SC seeks Centre's response on sacked Naval officer
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought
response from the Union Government on the special leave
petition filed by former Naval Commander Vinod Kumar Jha
challenging his dismissal in the 2005 Navy war room leak case.
A Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha issued
notice to the Government on Jha's petition through counsel
Sukhjinder Singh seeking reinstatement claiming he was falsely
implicated, subjected to third degree torture and dismissed
without proper court martial proceedings.
Jha had moved the Supreme Court after the Armed Forces
Tribunal on June 30 dismissed his plea along with that of
Commander Vijender Rana.
He reiterated the plea in the apex court that he had
been made a scapegoat to save the kin of the then Navy Chief
Arun Prakash, a contention that was earlier dismissed by the
Armed Forces Tribunal.
The Tribunal had on June 30 dismissed the plea of Jha
and Rana that no court martial was held against them which
would have given them an opportunity to defend themselves.
The duo had claimed before the Tribunal that they were
made "sacrificial goats" to save the kin of the then Navy
Chief Arun Prakash and alleged the latter's nephew, Ravi
Shankaran, was the "real culprit" in the case.
Opposing their plea, the Navy argued that the officers
were dismissed from service without any inquiry as court
martial would not have been "conducive in the public interest"
as it would have involved the security of the State.
Agreeing with Navy's contention, the Tribunal Bench
headed by Justice A K Mathur said "it will not be in public
interest and the security of the State to give a show cause
notice to the petitioner of holding of court martial as the
disclosure of the same will seriously prejudice the security
of the country."
"We do not find any merit in both the cases and same
are dismissed," it added.
The Tribunal added that disclosures in the Board of
Inquiry against Rana and Jha were "so serious" that
authorities thought it proper not to order any further inquiry
against their reputation and character.
"It was also realised that holding of inquiry and
disclosing of the war room secrets will be more injurious to
the security of the country," the Tribunal said.
The two officers, arrested by CBI in 2006 under
Official Secrets Act, are at present lodged in Tihar jail
Nine people including former IAF Wing Commander Sambhaji
Rao Surve and Ravi Shankaran were charged for leaking secrets
from Navy's war room.
After the matter came to light, Navy constituted a
Board of Inquiry into it and Rana and Jha were found guilty
and sacked along with Captain Kashyap Kumar (the then Director
of Naval Operations).