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Tue. Oct 4th, 2022
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NEW DELHI: It’s a story with all the ingredients of a spy thriller. A man claiming to be a former spy had sneaked into Pakistan and carried out two operations but was caught during his third mission in 1976. He spent 13 years in jail, but upon his return, the government didn’t recognise him as his name was not found in any official record.
Thirty years after he returned to India and fought a long legal battle, the former “spy”, now 75 and living in Kota in Rajasthan, got relief from the SC with a bench of CJI U U Lalit and Justice S Ravindra Bhat directing the Centre to pay Rs 10 lakh ex gratia to him. Mahmood Ansari was working in the postal department which he joined in 1966. As per the petition filed through advocate Samar Vijay Singh, he received an offer in June 1974 from the Special Bureau of Intelligence to carry out secret operations for the nation and he accepted it. The postal department also accepted the request to relieve him as and when required by the SBI.
As per the petition, Ansari was deputed to Pakistan to carry out a “specific task”. He was intercepted by Pakistani Rangers during his third mission and was arrested on December 23, 1976. He was tried under the Official Secrets Act in Pakistan and given a 14-year jail term. During his imprisonment, he wrote many letters to his department informing it of his imprisonment in a Pakistani jail. He also said his absence may not be treated as wilful absence from duty. But the department passed an ex parte order on July 31, 1980 against him and fired him.
Additional solicitor general Vikramjit Banerjee, appearing for the government, termed his story as fictitious. But, the court asked the ASG why Ansari was given a long leave from his job at the post office and asked him to produce a record to deny the contention that he was given leave earlier also to carry out operations in Pakistan. The ASG said it was difficult to find the record as it happened 40-years ago. The SC said it is normal practice followed by all countries that they don’t own their people who are caught on foreign land while being part of a secret mission.
It first directed the Centre to pay Rs 5 lakh ex gratia but increased it to Rs 10 lakh when his lawyer said the petitioner was 75 years old with no source of income.

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