M A I N   N E W S

Navy sacks 3 officers
Leak of information
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 28
Indicating that the leak of information from the Navy’s war room earlier in the year was of serious nature, the Navy, in an unprecedented action, today dismissed from service three officers who were found guilty of leaking classified information for commercial interests.

A Navy spokesman here said Capt Kashyap Kumar, who was the Director of Naval Operations, and Commanders Vinod Kumar Jha and Vijendra Rana, also from the Directorate of Naval Operations, were dismissed with immediate effect by invoking “the President’s Pleasure Doctrine” under the Navy Act, 2005, without resorting to Court Martial.

The Navy had last month indicted these officers for being involved in the leak of information and there had been indications that they could face Court Martial. However, the Navy has not resorted to trying the officers in the Court Martial and dismissed them from service.

In the armed forces, the presidential “Pleasure Doctrine” is rarely invoked. According to senior officials, in the past 57 years, except for a few cases, the ministry has not taken action under Section 15(2) of the Navy Act.

Although the Navy has throughout been in a denial mode regarding the sensitivity of the great deal of information that was leaked allegedly through pen drives, this action casts doubts over the Navy’s claims.

The spokesman said the Board of Inquiry had established that there had been leak of classified information of commercial value to unauthorised persons.

The three officers dismissed from the service were found to have “collectively as well as individually” compromised on the security of classified Naval information and thereby jeopardised the interest of the state.

The three officers were found guilty on counts of copying, obtaining, retaining and disclosing classified information, communicating this to unauthorised persons and accepting gratification, he said.

The Tribune had been the first to name the three officers involved in the leak of information that had come to light following the reported recovery of a pen drive from one of the officers. It contained classified information.

As a result, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash had passed on the information to the intelligence agencies and the three officers had been interrogated by IB and RAW officials.

The inquiry board had found the officers guilty of “gross misconduct and impropriety”. The four-member Court of Inquiry was headed by Rear Admiral Ganesh Mahadevan, who is the Assistant Chief of Material of the Navy.

The Naval Headquarters had at the time of leak of information said that no “secret or operational plan of movement of warships and submarines” had been leaked out.

As part of the investigations, the three men had been moved from South Block and put on attachment at some other branch and were also put under arrest.

This was the second time in two years that a break-in has been reported in sensitive defence installations and stealing of information from stored computers.

In August, 2003, 18 encrypted computers were stolen from heavily guarded DRDO scientific analysis office at Metcalf House here.

Reports here said the Board of Inquiry constituted to probe the incident had submitted its report to the Naval Chief, who is then said to have recommended further action to the Ministry of Defence.

Incidentally, this incident of leak of information from Navy’s War Room would also cast a shadow on some of the senior Naval officers who would be directly seen to be responsible for the neglect leading to the leak of information.

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