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Journalist convicted of espionage released
June 05, 2006 20:16 IST
A woman freelance journalist, who was convicted for allegedly leaking classified national secrets to ISI and other foreign agents, was ordered to be released by the Delhi High Court on the ground that the trial court has no jurisdiction to try the offence.
Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed while setting aside the seven-year conviction imposed by the chief metropolitan magistrate, ordered that the accused Rachana Singh alias Ruchi shall be forthwith released unless she is wanted in any other case.
A freelance journalist, Ruchi was arrested by the sleuths of the IB and other investigating agencies on May 19, 2000 on charges of passing classified official secrets to Pakistani agents based in Delhi and Kathmandu.
The accused during the trial, however, pleaded that she was being falsely implicated in the case due to vendetta. Ruchi had claimed that she was framed in the case on account of her writings against the ISI, Nepal government, bureaucrats and politicians.
After examining over 19 witnesses, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate convicted her of the offence under Section 3/9 of the Official Secrets Act 1923 read with Section 120-B IPC and sentenced her to seven years rigorous imprisonment.
Ruchi filed an appeal before the Additional Session Judge who dismissed the same. Following this, the accused filed a criminal revision petition in the High Court challenging the conviction.
Senior counsel P P Khurana appearing for the accused, while submitting that Ruchi was innocent, argued that the court of the chief metropolitan magistrate had no powers to try the alleged offence registered under the Official Secrets Act.