Navy Commander, 2 Retired Officers Arrested for Leaking Information on Submarine Project

The three officers, as well as two private individuals, were arrested by the CBI last month after an investigation was launched into allegations of bribery and sharing of classified information.

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New Delhi: A Commander of the Indian Navy, along with two naval retired officers, has been arrested by the CBI for allegedly leaking information on an ongoing project regarding the upgrading of the Navy’s submarine fleet, officials said on Tuesday.

The officers, as well as two private individuals, were apprehended in a “secret operation” by the investigative agency’s Anti Corruption Unit which had been initiated last month on the suspicion of information leaks and allegations of bribery.

The project to upgrade the Navy’s Kilo class submarines has been in the works for some time now. The accused officer had allegedly shared crucial details regarding this project with the other accused, some of whom reportedly work for defence companies, a source told the Times of India.

Kilo class submarines are vessels designed and built by the Soviet Union and are among the most common conventional submarines in the world, featuring in the fleets of several navies across the world. Details of the Navy’s upgradation process for these vessels remain classified. 

The serving Naval Commander was arrested from the Western Naval Command in Mumbai in September. All five accused individuals are currently in judicial custody. 

The CBI is currently conducting forensic analysis on the arrested Commander’s digital products in an attempt to identify who the sensitive information has been shared with. Additionally, the agency has conducted raids in 19 places, such as Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and so on and seized devices and other digital evidence, according to the Times of India report.

Moreover, the Navy has initiated an internal inquiry which is being overseen by a Vice-Admiral and a Rear Admiral. In a statement, the Navy said that the CBI investigation has the “full support” of the Navy, NDTV reported.

This is not the first time the Indian Navy has been involved in a leak of sensitive information. In 2016, details regarding the “secretive combat capability” of six Scorpene submarines, which India was to purchase from France, were leaked on the internet, sending alarm bells ringing through the offices of Indian security forces.

More arrests are expected in the present case, however, whether or not any foreign intelligence agencies were involved in the leak remains unclear.

(With PTI inputs)