Central Bureau of Investigation v. Abhishek Verma

Sachet SahniCase Summary

Central Bureau of Investigation v. Abhishek Verma

Central Bureau of Investigation v. Abhishek Verma
(2009) 6 SCC 300
In the Supreme Court of India
Crl.A. 935-36/2009
Before Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice (Dr) M.K. Sharma
Decided on May 6, 2009

Relevancy of the case: Admissibility of pen drive without Section 65B.

Statutes & Provisions Involved

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 4)
  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 120B)
  • The Official Secrets Act, 1923 (Section 3, 5)
  • The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (Section 3, 65A, 65B)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • A court of inquiry conducted by the Air Force Headquarters established that Wing Commander S.L. Surve obtained a pen drive containing information about the Directorate of Naval Operation (DNO). Kulbhushan Parashar, a former officer of the Indian Navy, possessed the pen drive. Moreover, he was associated with a company named Atlas.
  • Consequently, The Naval Headquarters held a Board of Enquiry. The board indicted three Naval Officers, namely Kashyap Kumar, Vijender Rana, and Vinod Kumar Jha, for leaking classified naval information.
  • Subsequently, the Ministry of Defence delivered information to CBI in two letters. On that basis, the CBI registered an FIR on 20.3.2006 against Kulbhushan Parashar, Ex. Cdr. Ravi Shankaran, S.K. Kohli, Mukesh Bajaj, Rajrani Jaiswal, Sambhajee L. Surve, Virender Rana, Kashyap Kumar, and Vijender Kumar Jha. Furthermore, the FIR was registered under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code read with Section 3(1)(c) and Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923.
  • The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi, passed an order by taking cognizance of the offences mentioned above. However, the respondent preferred a bail application under Section 439 Cr.P.C. before the High Court of Delhi praying for the grant of bail. Hence, the current appeal arose out of the High Court judgment granting bail to the respondent herein.

 Prominent Arguments by the Advocates

  • The respondent’s counsel contended that the High Court rightly granted the bail as there was no material on record to show that the respondent was a principal officer of Atlas Interactive India Ltd. Furthermore, there was no evidence that the pen drives recovered from Vijendra Rana were in possession of the respondent at any time. Hence, there was no evidence of the transmission of the material by the co-accused to the respondent.
  • The petitioner’s counsel submitted that the pen drives recovered from the co-accused Vijendra Rana and the documents seized from the premises of Kulbhushan Parashar contain sensitive information.

Opinion of the Bench

  • The bench observed that the pen drives were in an unsealed condition and not temper-proof when handed over.
  • Furthermore, the bench noted that the admissibility of the portable data storage devices is sceptical. There is no link established between the pen drives and any computer belonging to the respondent either at his residence or in his office.
  • Lastly, the bench opined that these storage devices must fulfil the requirements given under Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act to be admissible. In addition, Section 4 of the Information Technology Act should also be taken into perspective.

Final Decision

  • The bench thus, dismissed the appeals.

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