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Samba spy scandal: HC seeks Centre's reply on plea to de-classify documents

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: April 12, 2019  | 20:34 IST

New Delhi, Apr 12 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Friday sought the Centre's response on a plea by two former Army officers, caught for allegedly spying for Pakistan in the infamous Samba spy scandal which broke out in 1975, to de-classify all documents related to the case. Justice Vibhu Bakhru asked the Ministry of Defence and Chief of Army Staff to file their replies to the petition and listed the matter for further hearing on September 3. Ashok Kumar Rana and Ranbir Singh Rathaur, formerly captains, said in the petition that their fundamental rights were violated by branding them as Pakistani spies/ agents and not disclosing the essential documents pertaining to the 'Samba Spy' incident to them. They sought direction to the authorities to de-classify all the official documents pertaining to 'Samba Spy' scandal and put the same in public domain as more than 40 years have elapsed and all court cases have ended and no claim of national security can now be raised. "In all the major democracies around the world including United States of America and several European countries, all the classified documents have a fixed duration of classification and are mandatorily required to be declassified after a passage of a specified time or a specified event," said the petition, filed through advocate Pranav Sachdeva. It said the petitioners have tried all the legal recourse available to them to prove their innocence but to no avail as the entire basis of the charges and subsequent court martial proceedings against them were never properly and fully disclosed either to them or to the court. "The entire case history, starting from the General Court Martial proceedings and thereafter to this court till the Supreme Court, gives a glimpse of the kind of camouflage that was intended to be created by the respondents herein in order to shroud the real occurrences which if revealed would have left the Military establishment red-faced and indictable," the plea said. The Samba spy scandal dates back to 1975 when the two army jawans Gunners Sarwan Das and Aya Singh posted in a unit of 168 Infantry Brigade in Samba were arrested on a tip-off from the Intelligence Bureau for spying. The two admitted to their involvement but did not name anyone when interrogated in Jammu. They later implicated some personnel from their own 253 Medium Regiment as well as the Brigade Headquarters. Singh, Major Rathaur and Capt S R Nagial were charged with having travelled to Sialkot in Pakistan on several occasions and passing secret information to an officer of the Field Intelligence Unit of Pakistan Army. PTI SKV HMP SA

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