Petroleum ministry document leak: 5 held

Consultative Committee for Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas -Indian Bureaucracy
Consultative Committee for Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas -Indian Bureaucracy

Two petroleum ministry employees and three others have been arrested by the Crime Branch for allegedly leaking official documents to corporate houses.

The Delhi Police crime branch said it had unearthed a corporate espionage racket following the arrest of five persons who allegedly leaked confidential documents from the Union ministry of petroleum. The Delhi Police also raided the local office of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL).

It is a known fact that, RIL has been locked in a dispute with the oil ministry after it was made to give up a portion of the gas fields in the Krishna-Godavari basin, and the two sides are scheduled to begin an arbitration process.

Though the police refused to disclose the nature of the leaked documents, source said the papers pertained to pricing and other policy matters relating to the petroleum ministry.

It is also said that the police were also questioning a former journalist who was allegedly the intended recipient of the documents. This former journalist, who runs a business news portal and an energy consultancy firm in New Delhi, has been buying secret documents from the arrested persons for the past year and a half.

It is a common practice for companies to engage consultants to procure documents and engage in other acts that they don’t want to be directly associated with.

The five arrested persons were identified as Ishwar Singh and Asharam, two peons at Shastri Bhawan, Lalta Prasad and Rakesh Kumar, Ashraram’s sons, and a fifth associate, Raj Kumar Chaubey.

They had procured fake identity cards and made duplicate keys to the offices inside Shastri Bhawan, which were used to enter the offices. They were paid between Rs 5,000 and Rs 1 lakh per document depending on their importance.

In 1998, V Balasubramaniam (Balu), then India’s foremost lobbyist and Reliance Industries’ man in Delhi, was charged and arrested under the Officials Secret Act. He was booked for possessing confidential government documents that included Cabinet notes and minutes of meetings marked “Secret”.

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