ISRO espionage case: SC to hear plea against anticipatory bail granted to former officials on Feb 25


New Delhi: The Supreme Court has posted for February 25 the hearing of the plea of CBI challenging the Kerala High Court order granting anticipatory bail to four persons in connection with the 1994 ISRO espionage case relating to the alleged framing of scientist Nambi Narayanan.

A Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar adjourned the matter after the investigating agency sought four weeks' time to file the affidavit.

Earlier, the apex court had issued notices to the accused on the petition of CBI.

The Kerala High Court on August 13 last year had granted anticipatory bail to four accused -- the former Gujarat Director-General of Police (DGP) RB Sreekumar, two former police officers of Kerala S Vijayan and Thampi S Durga Dutt, and retired intelligence official PS Jayaprakash -- in connection with the case.Seeking cancellation of anticipatory bail granted them, the CBI had said the grant of anticipatory bail might derail the investigation in the case.

Additional Solicitor General AS Raju, appearing for CBI, had told the apex court that CBI 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.

Opposing the bail granted to the accused, Raju had said it's a "very serious matter" and there may be a larger conspiracy at the behest of foreign hands which is being investigated.

The CBI had alleged that there was a clear indication that the accused were part of a team, which had ulterior motives to torpedo the attempts of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for manufacturing the cryogenic engine.

It had registered a case against 18 persons for various offences, including criminal conspiracy, in connection with the arrest and detention of former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan, who was accused of spying in 1994.

The case relates 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.

CBI had earlier given a clean chit to Narayanan and said that the Kerala police had "fabricated" the case. The investigating agency stated that the technology ex-scientist was accused to have stolen and sold in the 1994 case did not even exist at that time and then top police officials in Kerala were responsible for his illegal arrest.

On September 14, 2018, the top court had appointed a three-member committee and directed the Kerala government to give Rs 50 lakh compensation to Narayanan for compelling him to undergo immense humiliation.

Terming the police action against Narayanan as a "psycho-pathological treatment", the top court had also 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". (ANI)

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