HC seeks government, Army stand on Samba spy case

New Delhi


he Delhi High Court on Friday asked the Centre to file its response on a plea by two former Army officials seeking to de-classify all official documents pertaining to the "Samba Spy" case. Justice Vibhu Bhakru also asked the Indian Army to file a reply on the plea and listed the matter for September 3.

The court was hearing a petition filed by former Captains Ashok Kumar Rana of 7 Jat Regiment and Ranbir Singh Rathaur of 11 Garhwal Rifles through their counsel Pranav Sachdeva.

The "Samba Spy" case dates back to 1975-1977 when two self-confessed spies Swaran Dass and Aya Singh, working as gunners in the artillery regiment of the Army, falsely named Captain Rana and Captain Rathaur as their accomplices. 

The two officers were arrested and based on their statements at least 40 other Army men were implicated and summarily dismissed for allegedly spying for Pakistan during their posting in Samba sector of Jammu. 

In 1979, Captain Rana and Captain Rathaur too were convicted by the General Court Martial and sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment for committing offences under the Army Act and the Official Secrets Act. 

However, later it was found that their statements were taken under duress and torture. In 2000, the Delhi High Court described the case a gross miscarriage of justice. 

The petitioners told the court that their fundamental rights were grievously violated as the government branded them Pakistani spies without sharing with them documents related to the case and which still remain "classified".

"The documents were not shown to the petitioners as that would have exposed the falsity and malafide behind the whole series of Samba cases thereby helping them establish their innocence," the petition said.

They have sought directions to the government to de-classify and put in public domain all the documents, as more than 40 years have elapsed and no claim of national security can now be raised as all court cases have also ended.

"In all the major democracies around the world including United State of America as well as several European countries, official documents have a fixed duration of classification and must be mandatorily declassified after a specified time or a specified event," the plea said.

The petitioners have also cited statements by former Intelligence Bureau Director T.V. Rajeswar and former Intelligence Bureau Deputy Director V.K. Kaul that the "Samba Spy" case was entirely fabricated and false.