ISRO Espionage Case : Supreme Court Sets Aside Kerala HC Order Granting Anticipatory Bail To Accused, Asks HC To Take Fresh Decision
The Supreme Court on Friday set aside the orders passed by the Kerala High Court in 2021 granting anticipatory bail of five former police and intelligence bureau officials in the case related to the alleged framing of ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan in 1994 ISRO espionage case.
The Court remitted the bail applications back to the High Court and asked the High Court to decide the same as early as possible, at any rate within a period of four weeks. The Supreme Court also granted protection from arrest to the accused for a period of 5 weeks, subject to their cooperation with the investigation, as an interim arrangement till the High Court finally decides the matter.
A Bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar had reserved the judgement on November 28 on the two petitions filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation challenging the grant of bail by the Kerala High Court 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 officers S. Vijayan and Thampi S. Durga.
Today, Justice MR Shah pronounced the operative portion of the order as follows :
"All the 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 the light of the observations made hereinabove. However, it is observed that this Court has not observed any thing on the merits of the case of the either of the parties and it is ultimately for the High Court to pass appropriate order. We request the High Court to finally decide and dispose of the anticipatory bail applications at the earliest, but preferably within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of these orders.The Registry of the High Court is directed to notify all these anticipatory bail applications before the concerned bench taking up such matters within a period of one week from today. Meantime, by way of an interim arrangement, without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the CBI before the High Court, it is directed that for a period of five weeks from today, i.e till the bail applications are finally decided by the High Court upon remand, the respondent accused shall not be arrested subject to their cooperation with the investigation".
The Court clarified that the High Court should decide the matter without being influenced by the interim relief granted to the accused.
During the hearing, the bench had observed that the High Court's order had omitted to take into account several aspects.
"The High Court has committed certain wrongs. It has not dealt with Justice Jain committee report, individual allegations not examined. High Court should deal with individual cases individually", the bench had observed during the hearing.
In the order granting anticipatory bail, the High Court observed that concerns of the Kerala police at that stage about the espionage case cannot be said to be without basis.
"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 had noted in the order.
The High Court also remarked 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.
"There is not even a scintilla of evidence regarding the petitioners being influenced by any foreign power so as to induce them to hatch a conspiracy to falsely implicate the Scientists of the ISRO with the intention to stall the activities of the ISRO with regard to the development of Cryogenic Engine", the High Court order said.
For Petitioner(s) Mr. S.V. Raju, ASG Mr. Sairica Raju, Adv. Mr. Annam Venkatesh, Adv. Mr. Kanu Agrawal, Adv. Mr. Pramod Kumar Guntur, Adv. Mr. Sharath Nambiar, Adv. Mr. Digvijay Dam, Adv. Ms. Swati Ghildiyal, Adv. Mr. Rahul Mishra, Adv. Mr. Ansuman Singh, Adv. Mr. M.K. Maroria (AOR) Mr. Ankit Bhatia, Adv. Mr. Harsh P. Singh, Adv. Mr. Hitarth Raja, Adv. Mr. Venkatesh, Adv. Mr. Nakul Chengappe K.K., Adv. Mr. Arvind Kumar Sharma, AOR
For Respondent(s) Ms. Aparna Bhat, AOR Ms. Karishma Maria, Adv. Mr. Kaleeswaram Raj, Adv. Mr. Mohammed Sadique T.A., AOR Mrs. Anu K. Joy, Adv. Mr. Alim Anvar, Adv. Ms. Thulasi K. Raj, Adv. Mr. Jose Abraham, AOR Sebastian Joseph, Adv. Mr. M.P. Srivignesh, Adv. Mr. Lakshman Raja. T, Adv. Mr. Mithun Kumar. N, Adv. Ms. Anju Joseph, Adv. Mr. Jogy Scaria, Adv. Ms. Beena Victor, Adv.