SC overturns a Kerala HC decision granting anticipatory bail to an accused person, orders the HC to reconsider its decision

SC overturns a Kerala HC decision granting anticipatory bail to an accused person, orders the HC to reconsider its decision

On December 2, the Supreme Court's division bench overturned orders issued by the Kerala High Court in 2021 granting anticipatory bail to five former police and intelligence bureau officials in the case relating to the alleged framing of ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan in the 1994 ISRO espionage case.

A Bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar remanded the bail applications back to the High Court, asking it to rule on them as soon as possible, preferably within four weeks. The Supreme Court also granted the accused protection from arrest for a period of five weeks, subject to their cooperation with the investigation, as an interim measure until the High Court rules on the case.

"All the appeals are allowed. For the reasons stated above, the impugned judgments are hereby quashed and set aside. All the anticipatory bail applications are remitted to the High Court to decide the same afresh in accordance with law and in the light of the observations made hereinabove. However, it is observed that this Court has not observed any thing on the merits of the case of the either of the parties and it is ultimately for the High Court to pass appropriate order. We request the High Court to finally decide and dispose of the anticipatory bail applications at the earliest, but preferably within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of these orders.The Registry of the High Court is directed to notify all these anticipatory bail applications before the concerned bench taking up such matters within a period of one week from today. Meantime, by way of an interim arrangement, without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the CBI before the High Court, it is directed that for a period of five weeks from today, i.e till the bail applications are finally decided by the High Court upon remand, the respondent accused shall not be arrested subject to their cooperation with the investigation".

During the hearing, the bench had observed that the High Court's order had omitted to take into account several aspects.

"The High Court has committed certain wrongs. It has not dealt with Justice Jain committee report, individual allegations not examined. High Court should deal with individual cases individually", the bench had observed during the hearing.

In 2018, the Supreme Court established a commission led by former Supreme Court judge Justice DK Jain to unearth the larger conspiracy behind the framing of former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayan and other scientists in the 1994 espionage case, while awarding compensation of Rs 50 lakhs to Dr.Nambi Narayanan for his illegal arrest and custodial torture.

The Justice Jain committee presented its report to the Supreme Court in April 2021. Following that, the Supreme Court directed the CBI to act on the report of the Justice Jain Committee. The CBI registered the case in which f are the other accused.

The Central Bureau of Investigation filed two petitions challenging the Kerala High Court's grant of bail to former Kerala DGP Siby Mathews, former Gujarat ADGP RB Sreekumar and PS Jayaprakash - who were IB officials in 1994- and two former Kerala Police officers S. Vijayan and Thampi S. Durga.

Case Title: CBI v. Siby Mathew, CBI vs Jayaprakash

Citation: SLP(Crl) 4097/ 2022, SLP(Crl) No. 8008-8010/2021 II-B


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