Free Press Journal

Document leak case: FIR says budget inputs among papers stolen 


B S Bassi

New Delhi: The sensational petroleum ministry document leakage case assumed wider dimensions with the arrest of a former journalist and an energy consultant and revelations in the police complaint that the papers stolen included inputs for the forthcoming union budget and a letter relating to the PMO.

The stolen documents were also related to the power and coal ministries, police said. Delhi Police earlier Friday arrested Santanu Saikia, who runs a web portal and covered the crime beat for several years, for his alleged role in providing secret documents of the petroleum ministry to corporate houses.

Prayas Jain, a Melbourne-based energy consultant, was also arrested. Delhi Police chief B.S. Bassi said Saikia and Jain ran an independent website where they uploaded the analysis of the documents which were photocopies of the originals.

“And this information was further used by corporate houses. They also shared this information with some individuals in return for money,” Bassi told reporters. He, however, refused to reveal the names of the organisations which benefitted from it.

“It will not be good to reveal the names of these organisations as the investigation is still on.” Delhi Police Thursday arrested five people — two petroleum ministry employees and three others — for stealing documents and leaking them to corporate houses.

Rakesh Kumar, 30, Lalta Prasad, 36 — both brothers and residents of Delhi, and Raj Kumar Chaubey, 39, a resident of Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, were held red-handed with photocopies of some secret documents in Shastri Bhawan Feb 17.

Based on information provided by them, government employees Asharam, 58, and Ishwar Singh, 56 were also arrested. They were part of the multi-tasking staff (MTS) in Shastri Bhawan. Police said Lalta Prasad and Rakesh Kumar were on the payroll of Jain and he used to pay them Rs.40,000 each per month.

The first information report (FIR) filed Wednesday but which was accessed by the media Friday details the photocopies of documents recovered from the five people initially arrested in the case. Some of the documents are latest and have been signed only this week.

Among the photocopied documents is a monthly gas report of December 2014 of the planning and analysis cell of the ministry. It was signed Feb 16. There is a letter of Nripendra Misra, principal secretary to the prime minister.

The photocopied documents also included “inputs material on natural gas grid for inclusion in Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s budget speech for 2015-16”, police said. The budget is regarded as a top secret document till it is unveiled by the finance minister in parliament.

The information about leakage of budget inputs has come three days before the commencement of the budget session of parliament. Police also said Friday that documents relating to the power and coal ministries were also recovered from the people arrested initially.

Police said they were questioning officials of RIL and Essar groups. Bassi said Friday that Lalta Prasad and Rakesh Kumar lifted documents indiscriminately. “The arrested people (Kumar and Prasad) did not steal particular documents. They instead used to lift any document lying on the table,” he said.

The theft of documents was taking place in the office of the ministry located in the high-security Shastri Bhawan near the Parliament House complex. All the seven arrested so far have been charged under sections of the IPC relating to stealing, forgery, trespass and criminal conspiracy, Bassi said.

Police are also mulling whether the arrested people can be booked under the Official Secrets Act. Crime Branch officials had also taken the five accused to Shastri Bhawan to recreate the scene. The FIR details how the “secret papers” were photocopied after office hours by the arrested who used duplicate keys to open the offices after entering Shastri Bhawan on forged identity cards and temporary passes obtained fraudulently.