Prosecution Has Not Prima Facie Established Any Conspiracy: Kerala HC Grants Anticipatory Bail To Former Cops In ISRO Espionage Case
The Kerala High Court has granted anticipatory bail to former police officers and former intelligence bureau officers in connection with the ISRO espionage case of 1994.
The Court observed that the prosecution has not prima facie established any element of conspiracy.
“On a careful analysis of the materials placed before the Court, I am of the view that the prosecution has so far not prima facie established any element of conspiracy…”, the bench of Justice K Babu observed.
The Court also noted that the CBI could not place any concrete materials on record which prima facie make accusations against the petitioners/accused well founded.
S.Nambi Narayanan, a renowned scientist of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), was arrested in a prosecution initiated by the State Police alleging espionage against the scientists of ISRO, which was found to be false and baseless.
It was alleged that the accused deliberately leaked the information to the press to create a narrative implicating the scientists of Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre.
The Government of Kerala decided not to take any disciplinary action against the State Government Officials for the alleged lapses.
The Government ordered the re-opening of the investigation by the State Investigating Agency.
The decision of the Government of Kerala was challenged by Nambi Narayanan.
The matter reached the Apex Court, which quashed the decision of the Government. The Apex Court awarded a compensation of Rs 50 Lakhs to Nambi Narayanan and constituted a committee headed by Justice D.K.Jain to find out the ways and means to take appropriate steps against the erring officials.
The committee observed that prima facie 18 persons, who were then serving the Kerala Police and Intelligence Bureau, were involved.
Some of the accused persons filed anticipatory bail plea before High Court which came to be allowed.
The CBI challenged the order granting anticipatory bail to the accused before the Supreme Court.
The Apex Court set aside the order granting anticipatory bail to the accused and remanded the matter to High Court to decide the same afresh.
Advocates Kaleeswaram Raj and Varun C.Vijay appeared for petitioner whereas S.V.Raju, Additional Solicitor General of India, Manu S., DSG, Suvin R Menon, Central Government Counsel appeared for Respondents.
The High Court observed that there was a glaring lack of professionalism in the discharge of duties by the accused especially by the officials of the Kerala Police however, their alleged participation in a conspiracy is yet to be established.
“What appears from the materials is that there was a glaring lack of professionalism in the discharge of duties by the accused especially by the officials of the Kerala Police. However, the mental element of the accused in the commission of the alleged offences and their alleged participation in a conspiracy as projected by the prosecution is yet to be established by the CBI.”, the Court noted.
The Court observed that the elements of mens rea for the commission of the offences punishable under Sections 195 and 365 IPC are prima facie not revealed.
The Court also held that there is no indication or credible material to prima facie hold that a foreign power had a hand in persuading the petitioners/accused in the registration of the crimes.
The Court further noted that the prosecution failed to establish that prejudice would be caused to free, fair, and full investigation in the event of granting anticipatory bail.
Thus the Court granted anticipatory bail to the accused persons with some conditions.
The Court directed the accused persons to appear before the Investigating Officer on January 27 for interrogation. The Court further directed them to appear before the Investigating Officer for interrogation on Mondays and Fridays for a period of two weeks.
Cause Title- P.S.Jayaprakash v. Central Bureau of Investigation & Ors with connected matters