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Providing information and photographs of vital installations to ISI amounts to waging war against the country: J-K HC

Justice Sanjay Dhar noted, "Providing vital information, to my mind, is nothing but waging war against the country and it also falls squarely within the definition of an offence punishable under of Enemy Agents Ordinance".

While hearing a bail application, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court observed that the “Union Territory of J&K is facing an onslaught of terrorist activities from the neighbouring country, which is orchestrated by ISI of Pakistan”. According to Live Law, the High Court denied bail to the person named Pankaj Sharma who is accused of consorting with Pakistan’s Intelligence Agency ISI and sharing the pictures of vital installations and movements of troops with them.

In the order dated December 2, 2020, a Bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar noted, “Providing vital information, to my mind, is nothing but waging war against the country and it also falls squarely within the definition of an offence punishable under of Enemy Agents Ordinance”. As per the order, the petitioner was alleged to have passed on photographs of Samba City, Bari Brahmana, Ujh Bridge, Vijaypur Market, Bahi Nallah, Bari Brahmana Railway Station, Ghagwal Bridge, Pagwal Nallah. He also allegedly sent pictures of trains boarded with army personnel at Railway Station, Bari Brahmana before the Balakote strike.

Petitioner sent pictures of vital instalments and received money

It was reportedly disclosed by the petitioner during the investigation that he was introduced by his neighbour to one person claiming to be ‘Captain Jyoti Sharma’ on Facebook. Captain Jyoti Sharma told the petitioner that she was on a peace mission in Sudan. She introduced him to her senior ‘Major Amit Sharma’ on Facebook who offered a part-time job to petitioner of sending pictures of vital installations and developmental projects in India. He was offered money for this. The petitioner reportedly sent pictures of Tagore Bridge at National Highway, AIIMS construction site and information with regard to the distance of said places from Jammu Airport. An amount of Rs 6,000 was transferred in petitioner’s SBI account as the first instalment. The petitioner kept on sending pictures in exchange for money.

The petitioner’s counsel had said that merely taking photographs of some installations and sending it to some persons in Sudan did not amount to waging war against the government of India. He said that even if it was assumed that the petitioner was sending photographs to persons linked with the ISI, no offence was made out against him as all the images were available on the internet.

However, the court noted that though the petitioner was initially unaware that the persons he kept sending messages to belonged to the ISI, he did come to know it later, and still kept sending them the images and information. He was also deleting the images from his own devices fearing detection. The Court also noted that not just the petitioner, but his mother and a friend named Ashwini Kumar were also receiving money for the photographs in their bank accounts.

Bail plea rejected

The court noted in the order that the charge sheet filed in the case, the documents attached, bank statements and the statements of witnesses prima facie show that the accusations against the petitioner were true. The co-accused in the case who belong to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Maharashtra are still to be arrested. The court rejected the bail plea of the petitioner saying that considering petitioner’s connections with agents in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the possibility of him fleeing could not be ruled out.

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