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ISRO espionage case: Kerala High Court grants anticipatory bail to Police, IB officers

Anticipatory bail has been granted by the Kerala High Court to former Police and Intelligence Bureau officers RB Sreekumar, PS Jayaprakash, Thampi S Durga Dutt, Vijayan, and VK Maini, who have been accused of conspiring to frame former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist Nambi Narayanan in an espionage case in 1994.

Justice K Babu has however imposed certain conditions and directed the petitioners to co-operate with the investigation.

As per the order, the petitioner shall have to appear before the Investigating Officer on 27/1/23 between 10:00 and 11:00 am for interrogation.

Also, in the event of their arrest, they shall be released on bail on their executing bond for ₹1 lakh each and two solvent sureties of the like sum.

As per the order they will have to continue appearing before the Investigating Officer on Mondays and Fridays for a further period of two weeks.

Essentially, the petitioners shall not leave India without the permission of the jurisdictional court. Incase of urgent requirement, they shall continue to report before the Investigating Officer as and when required.

Although the High Court had granted anticipatory bail in August 2021, the Supreme Court had set aside that order in December last year and sent the pleas back to the High Court to decide the matter afresh.

The top court had said that it seemed that the High Court had not considered the individual role played by each accused and the nature of the allegations.

The Apex court had said that the delay in filing the criminal complaint should not have been a factor since the same was belatedly done only after the top court had ordered so in 2021.

Over the course of several hearings, the counsel for all the accused persons denied their direct role in the case.

The accused stated that they had been absent during the interrogation of Narayanan, since they were low level officers with no direct connection to the case the having no acquaintance with Narayanan.

Additional Solicitor General of India SV Raju, appearing for the Central Bureau of Investigation, informed the court that the 1994 espionage case was fabricated and the arrest of Narayanan was illegal.

After extensively hearing the arguments of all the counsel for three days, the Court had reserved its verdict last week.

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