Will the government deliver justice this time?
With the Delhi High Court (HC) issuing a notice to Government for the demand for declassification, the 45-year old Samba spy case, which was later found as a bogus case has been revived again based on the petition by the Army officers who were terminated and convicted in the mid 70s. The HC issued a notice to the Defence Ministry and the Army Chief, on the petition filed by retired officers who were falsely implicated seeking declassification of the entire files of the Samba spy case, in which the entire unit of Army officers and jawans were implicated and later found innocent.
The Samba spy case got ignited with the arrest of two jawans (soldiers) caught for spying for Pakistan in 1975 from the army unit in Samba in Jammu. The case was handed over to the Military Intelligence (MI) and based on the depositions of the two jawans, more than 50 officers starting from the unit head (Brigadier) to the jawans in the unit were terminated and many were convicted for up to 14 years. Later, one of the jawans caught for spying confessed that he falsely gave a deposition and the other jawan was shot trying to cross the border in the mid-80s. Later the Intelligence Bureau’s investigation panel found that the case was totally wrong and many officers were tortured and falsely implicated. The intelligence panel was formed as per the orders of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The high-level panel was headed by the then Intelligence Bureau’s (IB) Deputy Director V K Kaul and senior officers from the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the Military and Jammu & Kashmir Police and the panel found that the case was totally fake and created falsely by some officers to settle scores.
Many Army officers, now in their 70s and 80s, went up to the Supreme Court to get justice and their prestige back; during the arguments, the Defence Ministry and IB frequently submitted details in sealed covers and their cases were dismissed.
Though the Army officers were found innocent in the mid-90s, their demands for justice and giving back the lost prestige were not delivered. The officers accused the Governments of scuttling their fight for justice in courts by providing sealed covers and not declaring the IB’s panel report which found the spy case was a false one. It was widely opined that Intelligence agencies don’t want to be exposed of their goof up and framing up which harmed the life and prestige of an entire unit of the Indian Army.
Many Army officers, now in their 70s and 80s, went up to the Supreme Court to get justice and their prestige back; during the arguments, the Defence Ministry and IB frequently submitted details in sealed covers and their cases were dismissed. Appearing for the petitioners, former Captains Ashok Kumar Rana and Ranbir Singh Rathaur, Advocate Pranav Sachdeva argued that the Defence Ministry and Army should de-classify the documents of the bogus Samba spy scandal.
Advocate Sachdeva said they tried every legal recourse available to prove their innocence but all to no avail as the materials of the charges and subsequent court martial proceedings against them were never properly and fully disclosed either to them or to the court. Justice Vibhu Bakhru noted the petitioner’s contention regarding how long the documents can be kept classified. The judge asked the Centre to respond to the question raised in the plea regarding the de-classification of the files.
The petitioners who were the former Captains of Indian Army argued for de-classification of all the official documents pertaining to the Samba Spy scandal and put the same in public domain, as more than 40 years have elapsed, all court cases have ended and no claim of national security can now be raised. The instant case is the infamous ‘Samba spy case’ or rather the infamous ‘Samba spy “scandal”’ as the said case was nothing but a ‘scandal’ wherein the entire careers, dignity, and honour of various upright army officers including the Petitioners herein were unduly sacrificed for the selfish gains and motives of certain officers in the Military establishment, they said
Advocate Sachdeva argued that all major democracies, including the United State of America and several European countries, declassify documents after the passage of a specified time or a specified event. The High Court in its recent Order dated April 12 asked Defence Ministry and Army to respond within six weeks and the next hearing of the case is posted for September 3.
Will the Defence Ministry and Indian Army top brass respond to this petition positively and deliver justice to those suffered in a manipulative case created by certain uncouth elements in the Military Intelligence and other Intelligence Agencies? The need of the hour is to give back the lost prestige of the soldiers and officers who were innocent and now in their fag of end of life.
 Samba spy case: Indian army embarrassed as former investigators call charges baseless – Dec 31, 1994, India Today
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