New Delhi, Sep 29: A Delhi court on Tuesday dismissed the bail application filed by freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma, who was arrested for allegedly working for Chinese intelligence.
Denying him bail, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pawan Singh Rajawat noted that if a journalist, who is an important brick in the fourth pillar of democracy, decides to act with the intention to destabilise and negatively impact the sustainability and survival of democracy, it would be darkest day in the free press movement.
“The preliminary electronic evidence collected by the investigating agency points towards involvement of the accused in commission of offence under the Officials Secrets Act. I am satisfied that if accused Rajeev Sharma is released on bail at this stage, he may attempt to hamper the investigation. Accordingly, bail application stands dismissed,” the court order said.
On September 14, Delhi Police’s Special Cell had arrested Sharma, 61, for allegedly working for Chinese intelligence. During the search of his house, a laptop, some confidential documents related to Indian defence and incriminating papers were seized. He is currently in judicial custody.
Sharma had moved the court seeking bail on the grounds that he is suffering from various ailments, which include acute sinus problems, has undergone two surgeries for sinus and is at a high risk of Covid-19.
The prosecution had vehemently opposed his bail plea, claiming that the accused received huge sums of money from some companies and cash was collected on behalf of the accused from such companies.
The Additional Public Prosecutor further submitted that the source of secret documents found in the possession of the accused is yet to be established, and his alleged foreign handlers are also to be traced.
The present case was registered on the basis of secret inputs received from Indian intelligence agencies about links of Sharma with foreign intelligence officers and that he was receiving funds, through hawala and Western Union monet transfer, from his foreign handlers for conveying sensitive information on national security and foreign relations.
A case under Sections 3 (possession of any sketch, plan, model, article, note, document or information, which relates to munitions of war), 4 (Communications with foreign agents) and 5 (Wrongful communication of information) of the Official Secrets Act was registered on September 13 and Sharma arrested the next day.
On interrogation, Sharma allegedly disclosed his involvement in the procurement of secret and sensitive information and conveying the same to his Chinese handlers Michael and George, based in Kunming, China, through different digital channels. He is also said to have further disclosed that he was about to send these recovered secret documents to his handlers.
After Sharma’s arrest, Chinese woman Qing Shi and her Nepalese partner Sher Singh alias Raj Bohra were also arrested as they were found supplying Sharma with huge amounts of money, routed through hawala channels, for conveying sensitive information to Chinese intelligence.