HC extends interim protection from arrest to 3 former police officers, ex-IB official in ISRO case

Kerala HC stays Lakshadweep Admin order to demolish coastal buildings

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday extended by another day the interim protection from arrest given to three former Kerala Police officers and a retired IB official in the ISRO conspiracy case.

Justice Ashok Menon extended the relief for another day after the counsel for CBI told the court that an Additional Solicitor General would be appearing in the matter.

The court listed the matter for hearing on August 5.

The high court had on separate dates granted interim protection from arrest to former Kerala Police officers -- R B Sreekumar, S Vijayan and Thampi S Durga Dutt -- and ex- Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer P S Jayaprakash who all have moved pleas for anticipatory bail in the case registered by CBI.

Besides these four, 14 others, are named as accused in the case registered by the agency for various offences, including criminal conspiracy, kidnapping and fabrication of evidence, under the Indian Penal Code, in connection with the arrest and detention of former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan in the 1994 espionage case.

Besides Narayanan, two Maldivian women -- Mariyam Rasheeda and Fouziyya Hassan -- were also arrested and detained in the 1994 case.

The two women were jailed for more than three years before they were released.

All three have moved applications in the high court opposing the anticipatory bail pleas of the accused.

The CBI has opposed all the anticipatory bail pleas and has claimed that the false implication of Narayanan in a "concocted case" led to a delay in development of India's cryogenic technology.

The Supreme Court had on April 15 ordered that the report of a high-level committee on the role of erring police officials in the espionage case relating to Narayanan be given to the CBI and directed the agency to conduct further investigation on the issue.

The three-member committee, headed by former apex court judge Justice (retd) D K Jain, was appointed by the top court in 2018 after acquitting Narayanan in the case.

The top court had also directed the Kerala government to pay Rs 50 lakh as compensation for compelling Narayanan to undergo "immense humiliation".

The espionage case pertained to allegations of transfer of certain confidential documents on India's space programme to foreign countries by two scientists and fourothers, including two Maldivian women.

The CBI, in its probe at that time, had held that top police officials in Kerala were responsible for Narayanan's illegal arrest.

The case also had a political fallout, with a section in Congress targeting the then Chief Minister late K Karunakaran over the issue, that eventually led to his resignation.

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