Free Press Journal

Santanu Saikia: Not his first brush with law


New Delhi: Santanu Saikia, the most high profile person arrested among the seven people held in the petroleum ministry leak case, is a former business journalist and an energy consultant. Ironically, this may not be his first brush with the law.

In a post on his facebook page, Saikia had brought to the attention of his friends and visitors about how the Official Secrets Act was being “misused” by the government. He also quotes The Week’s story on CBI in December 2010, which mentioned “my 10-year court battle to escape prosecution from the CBI”.

Saikia, from the very beginning, was interested in the oil and gas field sector. In the nineties he had covered petroleum ministry as a journalist with the Indian Express. He then moved over to Financial Express, the paper’s sister publication when its editor, Prabhu Chawla shifted from the main paper to the business daily. In early 2000, he decided to break away from daily challenges of journalism to set up a website to provide information on the oil and gas industry for subscribers. was set up by Saikia in November 2001 and soon journalists noted that the information given on the site was often quite authentic. This was attributed to his journalistic abilities, rather than any suspicion about purloining of documents.

According to Delhi Police chief B.S. Bassi, Saikia was arrested Thursday evening on suspicion of passing on stolen documents from the ministry to corporate houses. Bassi said the police needed to get to the bottom of the issue in which six others were also arrested.

The police chief also said that they may even invoke the Official Secrets Act, if required. Saikia, along with three others, was Friday remanded in police custody. The other three got judicial remand. carries comprehensive information about the industry, including details on tenders, producer companies and services. On any given day, there are several dozen news items and analysis related to petroleum and gas industry and policy matters.

In July 2002, Saikia set up a related portal called the with offices in Shahpur Jat in New Delhi from where also operated. According to information given for setting up the site, the company also had another office in Defence Colony in Delhi. Both the sites boast about giving accurate information.

“All our stories are sourced from an impeccable network of industry and government contacts,” says both the websites which have very similar approach to information and layout. Although, most media organisations would claim accuracy in its information, the statement on the site takes an ominous colour in view of the arrests.

Saikia had a brush with tragedy in the 26/11 Mumbai attack by Pakistani terrorists. His wife, Sabina Sehgal Saikia, died in the attack on Taj Mahal hotel where she was staying on a visit to the city as a food writer for the Times of India. Saikia was called upon by a large number of television channels to talk about the tragedy.