Two ex-Kerala Police officials have been granted interim protection from arrest by the Kerala High Court
In a case filed by the CBI for various offenses including criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, and fabrication of evidence in connection with the arrest and detention of scientist Nambi Narayanan in the 1994 ISRO espionage case, the Kerala High Court granted interim protection from arrest to two former Kerala police officers on Monday. After the CBI requested an adjournment in the combined anticipatory bail application filed by S Vijayan and Thampi S Durga Dutt, Justice Ashok Menon granted the relief to the two officials, according to a lawyer involved in the case.
Suvin R Menon, a lawyer for the Central Bureau of Investigation, confirmed the judgment and added that if the two former police officials are detained, they will be released on bail after posting a bond of Rs 50,000 with two sureties of the same amount. According to him, the temporary order will be in effect until the next hearing date on August 2.
In the ISRO espionage case in 1994, the two were members of the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which detained the scientist and two Maldivian nationals –Mariyam Rasheeda and Fouziyya Hassan. The two women, who were represented by counsel Prasad Gandhi, and Narayanan, had filed a motion opposing the plea, claiming that it contained false claims. In its case, the CBI has named 18 defendants, including former Intelligence Bureau (IB) officers.
On July 7, the CBI filed an objection to the two former Kerala police officers’ plea, claiming that they fraudulently implicated Narayanan in a “fabricated case” that caused a delay in the development of India’s cryogenic technology. According to the CBI, the two accused “played an active role” in the conspiracy and “concocted an espionage case in pursuance of the conspiracy with the other accused in the FIR (filed by CBI) and other unknown people.”
On April 15, the Supreme Court ordered that the CBI receive the findings of a high-level committee on the role of erring police officials in the espionage case involving Narayanan and that the agency conduct an additional inquiry into the matter.
After acquitting Narayanan in the case, the top court formed a three-member committee, led by former supreme court judge Justice (retd) D K Jain.
The Kerala government was also ordered to pay Narayanan Rs 50 lakh in compensation for subjecting him to “immense humiliation” by the Supreme Court.
Two scientists and four others, including two Maldivian women, were charged with espionage for allegedly transferring classified documents about India’s space program to foreign countries.
In its investigation at the time, the CBI concluded that top Kerala police officials were responsible for Narayanan’s illegal detention. The case had political ramifications as well, with a faction of the Congress challenging then-Chief Minister late K Karunakaran over the matter, leading to his resignation.