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ISRO espionage case: Kerala HC extends interim protection from arrest to three former cops

The court extended the relief for a week after the counsel for CBI told the court that an Additional Solicitor General would be appearing in the matter.

Published: 04th August 2021 05:17 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th August 2021 05:17 PM   |  A+A-

Kerala High Court

Kerala High Court (File Photo| A Sanesh, EPS)

By PTI

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday extended by a week 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 a week after the counsel for CBI told the court that an Additional Solicitor General would be appearing in the matter.

The court then 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 -- RB Sreekumar, S Vijayan and Thampi S Durga Dutt -- and ex-Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer PS 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.

Advocate Prasad Gandhi, appearing for the two women, contended that the accused should not be granted any relief as the Maldivian nationals were harassed, unfairly arrested, and detained for over three years by the officers who investigated the spy case.

The counsel for the accused said the alleged conspiracy happened over 25 years ago and therefore, ther was no need for the CBI to drag on the anticipatory bail pleas. The court said that the accused were sufficiently protected from arrest by an interim order and therefore, they should not be concerned if the matter takes time as it has huge ramifications.

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) DK 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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