Home ministry official leaking sensitive information grilled

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NEW DELHI - A senior home ministry official detained for allegedly leaking sensitive information of commercial interest to some private firms was being questioned Tuesday, officials said, adding that he had not been arrested.

Police sources said the accused West Bengal cadre civil service officer, Ravi Inder Singh, who is director internal security in the home ministry was allowed to go after questioning Monday night and was detained again Tuesday for further interrogation.

The police have not arrested him, said Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat.

“We are quizzing him. Nothing else,” Bhagat told IANS.

The sources said his property and bank balance were being checked to see if he had accumulated wealth beyond known sources of income.

Singh may be suspended “very soon before any legal action is taken against him”, a home ministry official said.

Earlier police sources said Singh may be produced before a city court to seek his custody. But that was not so because investigation and questioning, according to police, were still on.

The house and office of the key accused were searched Monday by Delhi Police following suspicion that information of commercial interest was leaked by him.

“He has mishandled information that could be of commercial value. This is corporate snooping and clear violation of conduct rules. But it has nothing to do with national security,” the home ministry official told IANS.

Secretary, internal security, U.K. Bansal, expressed concern over the “involvement of such a high ranking officer”.

“It is a matter of concern. We cannot tolerate corruption and the message is clear. Delhi Police will submit their report by (Tuesday) evening to the ministry of home affairs,” Bansal told IANS.

Bansal said that he did not know if the accused had been arrested or not. “He was detained and I heard it from media reports that he was arrested.”

Meanwhile, police have also arrested a close associate of Singh in connection with the case.

Police picked up a businessman from West Bengal, who was allegedly playing a broker for Singh in striking a deal with a telecom company, a home ministry official said.

Singh, a 1994 batch officer, was in February this year posted as director, internal security. He was looking after a division that among other things handles the row over BlackBerry.

The government wants access to BlackBerry phone codes that would enable the security agencies to intercept corporate e-mails and chat services. This is being done to keep track of terrorists using BlackBerry messenger and e-mail services.

However, it was not known if the accused had leaked the information to the BlackBerry makers in particular.

TV channels also released some transcripts of alleged conversations between Singh and the detained businessman. The conversation points to serious allegations that the accused official was seeking sexual favours in lieu of the sensitive information.

The transcript “reveals their code language where ‘prasad’, ‘ladoo’ and ‘gur’ stand for money, and software for sex workers. Investigations show both men used hardware and software as codes for room and women. In one conversation, Singh is reportedly asking if ’software’ from Ukraine is available,” CNN-IBN channel reported.

will not be displayed