The Supreme Court on Monday refused to take action against former police officers of Kerala in the espionage case of ISRO Scientist S Nambi Narayanan on the basis of the Justice DK Jain Committee report, saying that the report cannot be the sole basis to proceed against the accused.
A bench comprising Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Sanjiv Khanna directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct an independent probe into the charges levelled against former policemen of Kerala, accused of illegally arresting Scientist Nambi Narayanan.
CBI today told the apex court that it has registered an FIR against the Kerala cops in the case on the findings of the Justice DK Jain Committee. The national probe agency submitted a sealed copy of its preliminary report to the Supreme Court.
However, the top court of the country said CBI cannot file FIR on the basis of Justice DK Jain Committee and directed the agency to initiate an independent probe as per law.
The apex court also dissolved the Justice DK Jain Committee, stating that its report will not be made public and that CBI is free to take action.
Senior Advocate TR Subramaniam, appearing for accused Kaliswaran, demanded a copy of the DK Jain Committee report. Advocate Amit Shar, appearing for accused Siby Mathews, said, “After registration of the FIR, I have availed the legal remedy and filed anticipatory bail before the lower court. When the lower court asked for relevant documents, the CBI said they cannot give the report. We don’t have anything. The hearing is today.”
To this, the apex court replied, “We are not concerned with that. CBI has to conduct its own investigation.”
The bench made this clarification after Advocate Amit Sharma (Counsel for accused officer Siby Mathews), Advocate Kaleeswaram Raj and Counsel for other accused submitted that the Justice DK Jain committee report has not been shared with the accused. The lawyers argued that the refusal on part of CBI to share the report was causing prejudice to accused in availing their statutory remedies such as bail against the CBI FIR. They contended that CBI was heavily relying on the report in the FIR.
At this juncture, the bench observed that the report is no longer relevant as CBI has registered an FIR.
The bench also clarified in its order that the accused will have the liberty to take all possible remedies available in law, which will be decided by concerned courts on merits in accordance with law.
in November 1994, Dr Narayanan, the head of Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Cryogenics Division, was charged with leaking confidential information related to the country’s space development programme to foreign agents. Dr Narayanan and five others, including two Maldivian women, were accused of selling confidential “flight test data” for millions to foreign agents.
Dr Narayanan was arrested in November, 1994. A CBI probe later alleged that then top police officials in Kerala were responsible for Dr Narayanan’s illegal arrest. In September 1998, the Supreme Court also dismissed charges against him. The apex court also directed the Kerala government to pay Rs 50 lakh compensation for ‘humiliating’ Dr Narayan.