The Supreme Court today set aside anticipatory bail granted to four accused, including a former Director General of Police (DGP), in a case of the alleged frame-up of scientist Nambi Narayanan in the 1994 ISRO espionage matter. The court has remanded the matter back to the Kerala high court for fresh consideration and asked it to decide it as early as possible, within a period of four weeks.
A bench of Justices M R Shah and CT Ravikumar also granted protection from arrest to the accused for five weeks as an interim arrangement till the High Court decides the matter.
“All these appeals allowed. Impugned orders granting anticipatory bail passed by high court are quashed and set aside. All matters are remitted back to the high court to be decided afresh on its own merits. This court had not observed anything on merits for either of the parties,” the bench said.
“It is ultimately for the high court to pass orders. We request the high court to decide the anticipatory bail applications at the earliest preferably within four weeks from date of this order,” it said.
The Kerala high court had granted anticipatory bail to four accused -former Gujarat DGP RB Sreekumar, two former police officers of Kerala and a retired intelligence official – after they approached the court after CBI registered a case against them for their alleged role in the frame-up of scientist Nambi Narayanan.
Seeking cancellation of anticipatory bail, the CBI had said the grant of anticipatory bail might derail the investigation in the case. The probe agency also questioned how the high court clubbed the matter together instead of listening to the case individually. Based on the merits of individual cases, the court could have granted the accused bail, the probe agency argued.
Agreeing the probe agency appeal, the Supreme Court bench has now asked the Kerala high court for fresh consideration of the anticipatory bail pleas on individual basis.
The case, which had hit the headlines in 1994, was framed based on 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.
Nambi 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 top court had on September 14, 2018 appointed a three-member committee while directing the Kerala government to provide Rs 50 lakh compensation to Nambi Narayanan for his “immense humiliation”.
Terming the police action against the ex-scientist of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) “psycho-pathological treatment”, the top 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”.
With inputs from agencies