The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday informed the Supreme Court that an FIR has been registered against various Kerala officials in connection with the 1994 espionage case against former ISRO scientist Dr. S Nambi Narayanan. Based on the findings of the Justice DK Jain Committee, the CBI filed the FIR.On Monday, the central agency submitted a sealed copy of its preliminary report to the Supreme Court. However, the top court ruled that the CBI cannot base its FIR on the Justice DK Jain Committee’s findings and directed it to conduct an independent investigation according to law.
The court headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar said, ‘After reading the report, this court was convinced that an investigation should be conducted by the CBI. The CBI now has to investigate’. The court told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, that a copy of the FIR must be uploaded the CBI on website. The FIR copy will be uploaded by the end of the day, according to SG Tushar Mehta. The apex court stated it will not make public the Justice DK Jain Committee report and that the CBI is free to act on its own.
Kaliswaran’s attorney, TR Subramaniam, demanded a copy of the DK Jain Committee report on which the FIR was based. Accordingly, the Supreme Court said, ‘The report provides only preliminary information. Our investigation cannot be based solely on the report. The DK Jain Committee report cannot be used against you’.
Defendant Siby Mathews’ lawyer, Amit Shar, said, ‘After registering the FIR, I have availed of the legal remedy and sought anticipatory bail. The CBI refused to provide the report to the lower court when it asked for the relevant documents. There is nothing we can do. Hearings will be held today. That is not of concern to us. The CBI must conduct its own investigation,’ the bench ruled.
The espionage case
Dr. S Nambi Narayanan, who was then chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Cryogenics Division, was charged in 1994 with leaking secret information about India’s space development to foreign agents. Five people, including two Maldivians, were accused of selling confidential ‘flight test data’ to foreign agents for millions of dollars.
Narayanan Nambi was arrested in November 1994. Nambi Narayanan’s illegal arrest was later linked to top police officials in Kerala, according to a CBI probe. In 1998, the Supreme Court dismissed the charges against him as well. In September 2018, the Supreme Court-appointed a three-member panel headed by former Justice DK Jain while ordering the Kerala government to pay Rs 50 lakh in compensation for forcing Narayanan to undergo ‘immense humiliation’.