In a shocking development late on Thursday, Delhi Police arrested two employees of the petroleum ministry and three others for stealing official documents and leaking them to corporate houses.
The theft had been taking place in Shastri Bhavan, where the office of the ministry is located, not too far from the Parliament House.
According to latest reports, Prayas Jain, an energy consultant in a Melbourne company and former journalist Santanu Saikia who runs an oil industry website, have also been arrested, says NDTV. Saikia runs the energy portal Indianpetro.
The crime branch also questioned Reliance Essar and ADAG officials.
Police added that more arrests are likely to be made.
Petroleum Minister Dharamendra Pradhan vowed that the guilty would be severely dealt with, reports IANS.
According to Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi the "secret papers" were photocopied after office hours and duplicate keys were used to gain access to the office after entering Shastri Bhawan on fake ID cards and temporary passes obtained via fraudulent means.
The documents were passed on to some corporate houses in return for rewards, he added.
"All those who are recipients of stolen documents will be questioned and action taken. If the documents fall under the purview of the Official Secrets Act, then the relevant sections will also be imposed," he told reporters.
Sources said that the Crime Branch officials raided several private companies on Thursday.
Bassi said that the two employees arrested by the Crime Branch were part of multi-tasking staff (MTS), while two were former staffers and one a driver who has not worked at the ministry.
"They were involved in the act for a long time," he said, adding a case has been registered against the five for stealing, forgery, trespass and criminal conspiracy.
Bassi said three of the accused were arrested Tuesday night but this was kept under wraps so that the two government employees could be arrested.
Rakesh Kumar, 30, Lalta Prasad, 36, both brothers and resident of Delhi, and Raj Kumar Chaubey, 39, a resident of Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, were held red-handed with the photocopy of some secret documents at Shastri Bhawan on 17 February.
On information provided by them, Asharam, 58, and Ishwar Singh, 56, were arrested.