ISRO Espionage case: Ex-Guj DGP moves HC fearing arrest

ISRO Espionage case: Ex-Gujarat DGP moves HC fearing arrest, interim relief granted

Sreekumar is among the 18 police personnel who have been charged for allegedly conspiring to frame former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan

A transit anticipatory bail is a temporary relief in which a person approaches the nearest court which may not have jurisdiction over the place of offence. Credit: iStock Images

The Gujarat High Court on Monday granted interim relief from arrest to ex-Director General of Police R B Sreekumar booked in  "ISRO Espionage'' in Kerala by the CBI. Sreekumar is among the 18 police personnel who have been charged for allegedly conspiring to frame former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist Nambi Narayanan in a spying case back in 1994.

The court of justice A S Supehia issued notice to CBI and granted a stay on Sreekumar's arrest. Sreekumar has moved a transit anticipatory bail plea apprehending arrest and sought protection for a temporary period to move to the concerned court in Kerala. A transit anticipatory bail is a temporary relief in which a person approaches the nearest court which may not have jurisdiction over the place of offence. This is an interim protection from arrest till the person approaches the concerned court for relief without fearing arrest.

Sreekumar, a Gujarat cadre ex IPS officer, is known for taking on the state government, then headed by PM Narendra Modi. He openly criticised Modi for mishandling the 2002 riots and had alleged that the state government had prevented the police from carrying out their duties during the communal riots. The 74-year-old ex-officer was denied promotion during his service and it was only after a court case that he was promoted to DGP rank post superannuation.

Sreekumar's lawyer M M Tirmizi said that the court granted a stay on his arrest and issued notice to CBI while admitting the petition.

Sreekumar's petition says that Vanchiyoor police station, Trivandrum had registered an offence under Foreigner's Act against Mariyam Rashida, a Maldivian national, for overstaying in India in 1994. The police also booked Rashida and one Fauzia Hasan, both from Maldives, under the official secrets act, 1923. The investigation was handed over to a special investigation team. During the probe, names of ISRO scientists including Nambi Narayanan and D Sasikumaran were disclosed and were interrogated by the SIT.

Sreekumar has said that on the request of DGP, Kerala, the Director of Intelligence Bureau deputed several IB officers from Delhi, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram under the supervision of Joint Director, SIB, Trivandrum Mathew John, to assist the local police. The case was handed over to CBI which filed a closer report and concluded that the offence was not made out in the case and requested the central as well as Kerala government to take suitable action against the erring officials.

The petition states that in November 1999, the central government served a nine-point chargesheet against three IPS officers including Sreekumar and ordered an inquiry. In October 2004, the government ordered a regular inquiry which exonerated everyone on the ground that no charges were proved. Kerala state didn't take any action. 

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court in 2018 awarded compensation of Rs 50 lakh to Narayanan and also ordered the constitution of a committee for obtaining information surrounding the arrest and false implication of Narayanan. Justice D K Jain committee was formed which submitted naming Sreekumar, among others, based on which the FIR was filed by the CBI in May this year.

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