CBI likely to chargesheet Abhishek in OSA case today

The CBI is likely to chargesheet arms dealer Abhishek Verma in a case under the Official Secrets Act on Friday, three months after it registered a case against Verma and his associates for accessing confidential documents of the Defence Ministry. Sources said the chargesheet is also likely to name a retired officer of the Indian Air Force who is an old associate of the arms dealer.

The agency had sought the sanction of the Home Ministry to file the chargesheet against Verma and his associates as the case pertained to the sensitive OSA. It was alleged that confidential Defence Ministry documents — provided by his estranged escrow manager C Edmond Allen — were leaked to private defence firms.

As first reported by The Indian Express , the documents included sensitive procurement plans of the air force and Defence Ministry that related to planned purchases of several years.

Earlier this week, outgoing CBI Director A P Singh had said that the chargesheet in the case would be filed "after clearance is received from the Home Ministry, which is mandatory in cases relating to the Official Secrets Act".

The CBI had registered a case against Verma and unknown government officials after a formal complaint was received from the Defence Ministry stating that documents purportedly provided by Allen, former escrow fund manager of Verma, were classified and violated the OSA.

The complaint was sent after a series of articles on Verma and the documents that were carried by The Indian Express.

The CBI decided to register a case against Verma and unknown ministry officials under section 3 of the OSA (passing on sensitive information) and 120-B (Criminal conspiracy). A team of CBI officials recently examined Allen in US and recorded his statement.

The entire procurement plans of the IAF, including top secret projects that reveal what systems will enter service in the next decade were contained in the papers, indicating a nexus that could involve highly placed officials within the government.

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