ISRO espionage case: SC sets aside anticipatory bail granted by Kerala HC to accused

The SC sent the bail applications back to HC, recommending that it decide at the earliest, within four weeks. Photo: IANS.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday set aside the Kerala High Court's orders granting anticipatory bail to former police and intelligence bureau officers in the case connected with the framing of scientist Nambi Narayanan in the 1994 ISRO espionage case.

A bench headed by Justice M.R. Shah, said that "all the appeals are allowed, the impugned judgments are hereby quashed and set aside".

It further said that all the anticipatory bail applications are remitted to the high court to decide it afresh in accordance with law and in the light of the observations made in the judgment.

The bench said that it has not observed anything on the merits of the case and it is for the high court to pass the order.

"We request the high court to finally decide and dispose of the anticipatory bail applications at the earliest, but preferably within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of these orders."

The detailed copy of the judgment will be uploaded later.

The apex court also granted protection from arrest to the accused for a period of five weeks, subject to their cooperation with the investigation, which is an interim arrangement till the high court finally decides the matter.

In November, the Supreme Court had reserved the judgment on two petitions filed by the CBI challenging the grant of anticipatory bail by the Kerala High Court to former DGP Siby Mathews, P.S. Jayaprakash, and others.

The 1994 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 alleged 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 had said 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 a 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) "psycho-pathological treatment", the apex court had in September 2018 said 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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