A Delhi court today declared controversial arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari as a proclaimed offender in an Official Secrets Act case related to the recovery of confidential documents of the Ministry of Defence from his residence during an IT raid in 2016. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Sherawat said the accused failed to appear before the court despite having ample opportunities and "it appears that he is deliberately avoiding to appear before the court". The proclamation of accused was published in newspapers and 30 days had already passed but he failed to appear, the judge observed. "Therefore, the accused is declared as proclaimed," he said. The south-western range (SWR) of the crime branch had recently moved an application before the court requesting he be declared a proclaimed offender. The Crime Branch is probing an Official Secrets Act case against Bhandari, registered in connection with the recovery of the documents of the ministry from his residence and his associate during an IT raid in April, 2016. During searches carried out by the Income Tax Department, papers of the defence ministry, including those related to a much-delayed proposal to buy mid-air refuellers, were allegedly recovered from his premises. The FIR was registered in October on a complaint by a senior defence ministry official that the documents and copies of classified papers recovered during the raid were violative of the Official Secrets Act. The documents were allegedly related to defence purchases and proposals placed before the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC).
There were also allegedly copies of minutes of the Contract Negotiation Committee meeting for purchasing refuellers. The I-T Department had been carrying out an investigation against Bhandari and the offset company in a tax evasion case when they stumbled upon the confidential papers and copies of documents of the defence ministry during the raids, police said.
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