Senior ATS inspector Sujata Tanawade filed the evidence in a sealed envelope, along with the chargesheet running into 1,835 pages, before special ATS court judge V R Kachre. When contacted, Tanwade said, “I cannot comment on the outcome of the investigation for security reasons.”
The 59-year-old scientist at a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratory in Pune was arrested in May on charges of spying and sharing security-sensitive information with a suspected Pakistani intelligence agent.
The ATS chargesheet stated that it had obtained sanction from the competent authority of the home department’s internal security to prosecute the senior scientist under Section 13 (3) (restriction on trial of an offence) of the Official Secrets Act.
“During investigation, we analyzed the scientist’s laptop, cellphones, emails, WhatApp chats, video calls, conversations and other electronic gadgets and articles recovered from him. We have taken the opinions of forensic experts and recorded statements of DRDO officials to show that the scientist leaked classified information pertaining to the country’s security,” an ATS official told TOI on the condition of anonymity.
“The scientist, currently lodged in Yerawada prison, leaked the information he had as the head of the DRDO laboratory while communicating with a stranger. Verification of the stranger’s email IP address showed that he had interacted with a woman Pakistani intelligence operative,” the official said.
The ATS filed the chargesheet through special public prosecutor Vijay Fargade under sections 3 (penalties for spying), 5 (1) (6) (a) (d) (wrongful communications etc; of information) and 4 (communication with foreign agents to be evidence of commission of certain offences) of the Official Secrets Act. Fargade told TOI, “The chargesheet was filed within 60 days from May 3 when the scientist was arrested.”
Defence lawyer Rishikesh Ganu said, “The scientist could not be produced before the court on Friday. The court will provide him with a copy of the chargesheet on July 7.”
The ATS had earlier said the arrested scientist had been in contact with the Pakistani operative through voice messages and video calls over WhatAapp. An official of the DRDO’s vigilance and security office in Delhi had filed a complaint with the ATS about the same.
A DRDO inquiry officer had seized a laptop and two cellphones of the scientist on February 24. A forensic analysis of the same confirmed that he had shared information with the Pakistani intelligence operative, who posed as an engineering student from Ambala. The operative had approached the scientist for research in engineering equipment, a move that appeared to be the trap, the officer said. The operative subsequently started blackmailing the scientist with photographs and clips of video calls.