The government has given the go-ahead to prosecute four serving and retired Navy officers in connection with alleged corruption in purchasing spare parts to retrofit Russian Kilo-class submarines, officials said.
The Central Bureau of Investigation had filed its chargesheets in November last year, within two months of initiating a probe into a corruption case, following which it had sought the government's sanction to prosecute accused Navy officers Commander S J Singh (retired) and three serving commanders -- Ajit Pandey, Abhishek Kumar Shar and Jagdeesh Chander, the officials said.
After more than a year, the government has finally given the sanction to prosecute the four accused figuring in the CBI chargesheets, which means that the trial in the case is likely to begin soon, they added.
Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act makes it mandatory for the CBI to get the government's nod before initiating the prosecution of an accused, the officials said.
The federal probe agency has already intimated to a special CBI court that it has the government's go-ahead to prosecute the accused officials, they added.
The CBI had lodged the case on the basis of inputs received by it that some serving officers at the Western Headquarters of the Navy, working on retrofitting Russian Kilo-class submarines, were allegedly influenced by retired officers and receiving pecuniary benefits, the officials said.
After registering a case on September 2, the agency conducted searches the next day, during which two retired officers, Commodore Randeep Singh and Commander S J Singh were arrested in a trap operation, they said.
During the searches, an amount of Rs 2.4 crore was recovered, which included the trap money, the officials said.
Subsequently, the CBI took Commander Ajeet Kumar Pandey into custody.
The officials said an alleged "hawala" operator and the director of a private company were also taken into custody during the probe.
It is alleged that the serving commander-rank officers in the Navy were leaking confidential information to retired officers in return for pecuniary gains.
The Anti-Corruption Unit of the agency, which handles sensitive and high-profile corruption cases, was tasked with unearthing the leakage of information, following which the operation was launched, the officials said.
The unit has questioned several other officers and former servicemen who were in regular touch with the arrested officers and retired personnel.
"Investigation related to alleged information leak of administrative and commercial nature being with some unauthorised personnel has come to light and is being investigated by an appropriate government agency," the Navy had said in a statement.