Cuttack: The Orissa High Court has directed the Centre to file an affidavit within two weeks with latest status of the probe into the espionage case of 2021 relating to Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Chandipur.

The HC issued the order on Thursday after it found that the Centre was asked to file the status report in an affidavit over a year ago, but it was yet to comply with the directive.

The case pertains to passing on vital information from the DRDO establishment in Odisha’s Balasore district to foreign spies in lieu of money. The Odisha police had caught five employees of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) of DRDO at Chandipur on September 13 and 16 in 2021 for allegedly leaking classified information from the defence establishment.

While the CID-Crime Branch of the state police had taken over the probe, a National Investigation Agency (NIA) team had also visited Balasore to probe the alleged links of the accused with Pakistani agents.

The matter came before the HC as advocate Arun Kumar Budhia filed a PIL seeking direction for probe into the episode by a professional national agency on September 28, 2021.

When the petition was taken up after over a year on Thursday, senior advocate Gautam Acharya pointed out that the court had directed the Centre to file an affidavit on the status of the espionage case in its last order on December 7, 2021, sources said.

The Centre’s counsel P S Behera, sought more time to comply with the court’s direction.

The two-judge bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice M S Raman allowed two weeks’ time to the Centre to file an affidavit showing the current status of the probe.

The petitioner also pointed out that the HC had in its December 7, 2021 asked the state government to file up-to-date status of the investigation by the CID-Crime Branch. While allowing state government counsel’s plea for grant of four weeks’ time to file the affidavit, the court posted the matter to August 10, they added.