ISRO espionage: SC to hear CBI's plea against HC order on July 27

Supreme Court of India | Photo: ANI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday said it would hear on July 27 the CBI's plea against the Kerala High Court order that had lifted the 60-day time limit on the anticipatory bail granted to former DGP Siby Mathews in a case relating to the alleged framing of scientist Nambi Narayanan in the 1994 ISRO espionage case.

The plea by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against the November 16 last year order of the high court came up for hearing before a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and J B Pardiwala.

The high court had passed the order on a plea by Mathews, a former Director General of Police (DGP), challenging the condition limiting the period of anticipatory bail to 60 days.

A trial court on August 24 last year granted him pre-arrest bail but limited the period of anticipatory bail to 60 days.

When the matter came up for hearing before the top court on Friday, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S V Raju, appearing for the CBI, said it has to be tagged with pending pleas filed by the probe agency against the high court order granting anticipatory bail to four other persons in the case.

The bench said it would hear these matters on July 27.

"In the circumstances, in order to secure the ends of justice, it is only appropriate that the said time stipulation of 60 days shall be lifted," the high court had said in its order.

Earlier, the CBI had moved the apex court against the August 13 last year order of the high court and the matter is pending.

The high court had on August 13 last year granted anticipatory bail to former Gujarat DGP R B Sreekumar, two former police officers of Kerala -- S Vijayan and Thampi S Durga Dutt, and a retired intelligence official P S Jayaprakash -- in connection with the case. Sreekumar was then the Deputy Director of the Intelligence Bureau.

The top court had in November last year issued notice on the CBI's plea against the August 13 last year order.

The CBI had earlier told the apex court that it has found in its probe that some scientists were tortured and framed in the matter due to which development of the cryogenic engine was hit and this led to India's space programme going back by almost one or two decades.

The CBI has registered a case against 18 persons for various alleged offences, including criminal conspiracy, in connection with the arrest and detention of former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan in the espionage case.

The case, which had hit the headlines in 1994, pertained to allegations of transfer of certain confidential documents on India's space programme to foreign countries by two scientists and four others, including two Maldivian women.

Narayanan, who was given a clean chit by the CBI, had earlier said that the Kerala police had "fabricated" the case and the technology he was accused to have stolen and sold in the 1994 case did not even exist at that time.

The CBI, in its probe, had said that the then top police officials in Kerala were responsible for Narayanan's illegal arrest.

The apex court had on September 14, 2018, appointed a three-member committee, while directing the Kerala government to cough up Rs 50 lakh compensation for compelling Narayanan to undergo "immense humiliation".

Terming the police action against the ex-scientist of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as a "psycho-pathological treatment", the apex court had in September 2018 said that his "liberty and dignity", basic to his human rights, were jeopardised as he was taken into custody and, eventually, despite all the glory of the past, was compelled to face "cynical abhorrence".


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