Kerala high court grants bail to 4 in ISRO spy case

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The Kerala high court on Friday granted anticipatory bail to four former police and intelligence officers in the case related to the alleged framing of former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist Nambi Narayanan in a 1994 espionage case.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in June booked former Intelligence Bureau (IB) deputy director RB Sreekumar and 16 other police personnel over the alleged conspiracy to frame Narayanan.

A single bench of Justice Ashok Menon granted the bail to former Kerala police officers S Vijayan, Durgadutt as well as Sreekumar, and another former IB official S Jayaprakash.

The CBI and two Maldivian women, who were also implicated in the case, opposed their bail pleas.

Additional solicitor general SV Raju, who appeared for the CBI, told the high court that it was a serious case and some foreign agencies, including Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, were involved in the conspiracy to sabotage the country’s cryogenic project that Narayanan was a part of in the 1990s.

The court asked the agency to produce evidence in this regard. The CBI said it will produce the proof when the case progresses.

The 16 were booked two months after the Supreme Court in April ordered the CBI to investigate the conspiracy behind the framing. It called the matter “serious” and said it requires “deeper investigation” into the role of the officers responsible. The top court accepted the report of a committee it constituted in 2018 to probe the circumstances that led to the alleged framing.

Narayanan, 79, was arrested in 1994 in the alleged espionage case. He was exonerated two years later following a CBI closure report.

The former police and intelligence personnel have been charged with conspiracy, framing of false evidence, and illegal custody.

Narayanan has said the country suffered badly due to the case and the cryogenic project of ISRO was delayed because of it

He was arrested after his numbers were found in a diary recovered from the two Maldivian women arrested in 1994 on charges of overstaying in the country. Narayanan was later charged with espionage before he was acquitted in 1995 after a CBI inquiry. The Supreme Court ordered compensation for Narayanan and constituted the committee that recommended a central agency probe into the conspiracy angle.

Sreekumar was on deputation with the IB when the case surfaced. He has maintained he had no role in the case and he never met or interrogated Narayanan. Some of the accused said they were not heard by the Supreme Court-appointed Jain Commission.

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