Delhi court grants bail to Malappuram man in espionage case

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Granting the bail, the court noted that he has already spent more than seven years in jail, half the maximum sentence prescribed for the alleged offence. Photo: IANS

New Delhi: A Delhi court has granted bail to a Malappuram native and Indian Air Force official to Ranjith K K, who allegedly shared secret information with intelligence operatives suspected to be backed by Pakistan's ISI after being honeytrapped.

Granting the bail, the court noted that he has already spent more than seven years in jail, half the maximum sentence prescribed for the alleged offence.

Additional Sessions Judge Aparna Swami granted the relief to Ranjith, who was a Leading Aircraftman, a junior ranking official below a corporal, with the Indian Air Force (IAF) posted in Bhatinda.

The judge noted the submissions made by advocates Akash Vajpai and Javed Ali, who while appearing for the accused said a close scrutiny of the case file reflected that no material delay can be attributed to the accused in causing delay in the trial.

As per the record, all the material witnesses have been examined. At present, 12 witnesses are left to be examined. These witnesses are police officials who in no case can be influenced by the accused. The accused has already undergone seven years and approximately 10 months period of incarceration, the judge noted.

The accused was charged for the offence punishable under Section 3 of Official Secrets Act the maximum punishment for which is 14 years in jail.

The judge noted that the conduct of the applicant in jail was satisfactory.

The applicant/accused has no previous criminal antecedents or involvement(s). Further, as 12 witnesses are still to be examined in the case file, this will definitely take time for concluding the trial. Thus, as the accused has already undergone substantive period of incarceration, this court being guided by the directions of Apex Courtis of the opinion that accused is entitled to the relief, the judge said.

Ranjith joined the Indian Air Force in 2010. He was booked under provisions of the Official Secrets Act.

According to the prosecution, Ranjith was deceived by a cyber entity by the name Damini McNaught, who pretended to be an executive of a UK-based media firm and claimed she required from him some Air Force-related information for an article in her news magazine in exchange for pecuniary benefits.

Ranjith allegedly shared confidential information with her which mostly pertained to IAF exercises, aircraft movements and deployment of various units in exchange for money, police had said.

Ranjith had also received a few Voice Over Internet Protocol-based calls on his mobile phone during which a female with British accent introduced herself as Damini McNaught and even interviewed him once.

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