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ISRO espionage case: HC grants anticipatory bail to six accused

The case is relating to the alleged framing of former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan in the 1994 ISRO espionage case.

SNS | Kochi. |

The Kerala High Court, on Friday, granted anticipatory bail to former Gujarat ADGP RB Sreekumar, former Kerala DGP Siby Mathews and four others in a case relating to the alleged framing of former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan in the 1994 ISRO espionage case.

The others who got the anticipatory bail are former Kerala police officers, S Vijayan and Thampi S Durga Dutt, and former IB officers, PS Jayaprakash and VK Maini. The bail was granted considering the separate bail pleas filed by each of the accused.

However, a single bench of Justice K Babu directed the accused to appear before the CBI for interrogation on 27 January between 10 and 11 am.

“Petititoners shall appear before the Investigating Officer on 27.1.23 between 10 am and 11 am for interrogation. In the event of their arrest, they shall be released on bail on their executing bond for Rs.1 lakh each and two solvent sureties of the like sum. They shall continue to appear before the Investigating Officer on Mondays and Fridays for a further period of two weeks. Petitioners shall not leave India without the permission of the jurisdictional court. They shall continue to report before the Investigating Officer as and when required,” the court said in its order.

The court also directed the accused to cooperate with the investigation subjecting themselves to deemed custody as observed in Gurbachan Singh and Sushila Aggarwal cases for the purpose of discovery or identification if any.

The high court considered the matter after the Supreme Court last month had set aside the grant of anticipatory bail to the accused.

The Kerala High Court had granted the accused anticipatory bail in August 2021. However, the Supreme Court had set aside that order in December last year and sent the pleas back to the high court to decide the matter afresh.

The apex court said that it appeared that the high court had not considered the individual role played by each accused and the nature of the allegations.

During the hearings, the advocates for the accused denied their direct role in the case. They stated that their clients were absent during the interrogation of Nambi Narayanan since they were low level officers with no direct connection to the case the having no acquaintance with Nambi Narayanan.

The counsel for Nambi Narayanan pleaded for custodial interrogation of all the accused persons stating that there is a serious conspiracy between the accused persons.

Additional Solicitor General of India SV Raju, appearing for the CBI argued that the 1994 espionage case was fabricated and the arrest of Nambi Narayanan was illegal.

The ISRO espionage case surfaced in 1994 when Nambi Narayanan, then a top scientist at the ISRO unit here, was arrested on charges of espionage along with another senior ISRO official, two Maldivian women and a businessman, but he was exonerated by the CBI in 1995 and he rejoined the ISRO.

The CBI had registered the case against the police officials in 2021 following a directive from the Supreme Court, which considered the D K Jain Committee report on the conspiracy behind the ISRO spy case