The Special Cell said Sharma was arrested on September 14 and was “found to be in possession of some defence-related classified documents”.

Hearing an application filed by freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma, arrested under the Official Secrets Act, to supply to him a copy of the FIR in the case against him, a Delhi court said the contents of the FIR in the espionage case were “sensitive in nature” yet “very sketchy” when compared to the press release issued by police, as it (the FIR) does not give the nature of investigation being done by police in detail.

The court provided the FIR copy to Sharma and co-accused, Chinese national Qing Shi, arrested in the case. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pawan Singh Rajawat said the accused are entitled to be supplied a copy of the FIR for defending themselves. It, however, directed the advocates representing the accused not to disclose the FIR’s contents in public and to use it for availing legal remedies only.

“I have gone through the contents of the FIR which was produced before me in a sealed cover. Even though nature of allegations against the accused persons pertains to offences under section 3/4/5 of Officials Secrets Act and offence U/S 120-B IPC, wherein the accused alleged to have been supplying strategic/sensitive information to their handlers in China, and, therefore, same is of sensitive nature,” the court said.

“However, after going through the press release which mentions in detail the background of the case as well as the outcome of the interrogation of the accused persons. If press release is compared with the contents of the FIR, the contents of the FIR are very sketchy as it does not give in detail the nature of investigation being done by police,” said the court.

The Special Cell said Sharma was arrested on September 14 and was “found to be in possession of some defence-related classified documents”. His police custody ends on September 28. Shi and Nepalese national Sher Singh were arrested five days later for allegedly paying Sharma money routed through shell firms.

Police opposed the plea moved by Sharma’s counsel Amish Aggarwala, saying it could affect the probe. Aggarwala, however, said the press release had “vivid detail” and the objections were “misplaced”.

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