The Supreme Court on Friday set aside the Kerala High Court’s order granting pre-arrest bail to five accused in the alleged framing of ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan in the 1994 espionage case, reports Live Law. The High Court had in August last year granted anticipatory bail to former Kerala DGP Siby Mathews, former Gujarat ADGP RB Sreekumar and PS Jayaprakash — who were IB officials in 1994 — and two former Kerala Police office officers S Vijayan and Thampi S Durga.
The apex court’s judgement came on a plea by the Central Bureau of Investigation challenging the bail granted to the accused in 2021. A bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar had reserved the judgment on the two petitions filed by the CBI which is probing a case of an alleged conspiracy to frame ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan in the 1994 espionage case.
While reversing the order, the SC bench sent the matter back to the Kerala High Court to decide the pleas afresh within a timeframe of four weeks. The top court also granted interim protection from arrest to all accused for a period of 5 weeks, till the High Court decides on the matter.
Also Read: Who is Nambi Narayanan?
“All appeals are allowed. For the reasons stated above, the impugned judgments are hereby quashed and set aside. All the anticipatory bail applications are remitted to the High Court to decide the same afresh in accordance with law and in light of the observations made hereinabove,” the operative part of the top court’s judgement read, according to Live Law.
The court, however, made it clear that the High Court should not view the interim relief from arrest granted to the accused as any observation on the merits of the case.
In 2018, the Supreme Court had in its order awarding Rs 50 lakh as compensation to Nambi Narayanan for his illegal arrest and custodial torture, constituted a commission led by former SC judge Justice DK Jain to probe the larger conspiracy behind the framing of Narayanan and other scientists in the 1994 espionage case.
The commission submitted its report in May, The report was taken into consideration by the Supreme Court which then directed the CBI to act on it.
While hearing the CBI’s appeals against anticipatory bail to the accused, the top court had observed that the High Court had failed to take into account several aspects of the case while arriving at its judgment. “The High Court has committed certain wrongs. It has not dealt with the Justice Jain committee report, individual allegations not examined,” the SC bench had observed.
Granting pre-arrest bail to the accused last year, the Kerala High Court noted that the concerns of the Kerala Police about the espionage case “cannot be said to be without basis”, and added that there was “not even a scintilla of evidence” to suggest that the petitioners accused of implicating former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan in the espionage case were influenced by foreign elements.
“Some of the documents which have been produced for perusal indicate that there were certain suspicious circumstances pointing towards the act of the scientists in the ISRO and that is what induced the officers to proceed against them,” Justice Ashok Menon of the Kerala High Court had observed in the August 2021 order.