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Innocent Admission

SC gives CBI free hand to probe Narayanan’s framing in espionage case

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New Delhi, July 26, 2021- The Supreme Court on Monday gave a free hand to the CBI to probe the alleged conspiracy to frame ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan in an espionage case in 1994 as the agency, in a status report, informed the top court that it has registered an FIR against former Kerala DGP Siby Mathews and others in the matter.

A bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said: “It is mentioned in the report after examining relevant aspect, the FIR has been registered. Now the law has to take its course.”

Advocate Amit Sharma, counsel for Mathews, and advocate Kaleeswaram Raj, counsel for another accused, submitted that the Justice D.K. Jain Committee report has not been shared with the accused, and argued that the CBI’s refusal to do so is causing prejudice to the accused in availing their statutory remedies. They also contended that the central probe agency is relying on the report in the FIR.

The bench, also comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna, noted that the CBI cannot proceed on the basis of the report of a panel headed by former top court judge Jain, formed in September 2018, to examine the matter, and the agency will have to collect material in the case independently.

“The report by itself cannot be the basis to proceed against the respondents or persons named as accused in the FIR registered by the CBI,” said the bench.

“The CBI has decided to proceed in the matter and further steps should follow as per law.”

It further added: “We make it clear that our earlier order only required that Justice D.K. Jain report shall not be made public and not the FIR.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, then informed the top court that the FIR will be uploaded during the course of the day.

The apex court said the committee’s report has been acted upon, therefore the Jain committee may cease to function.

On April 15, the top court had ordered the CBI to probe the role of Kerala Police officers in framing of Narayanan in the 1994 espionage case. Accepting the report submitted by panel headed by Justice Jain (retd), the top court said the matter is very serious and it requires CBI probe.

The bench had asked the then acting CBI Director to take charge of the case and treat the inquiry report given by Justice Jain panel as a preliminary inquiry report to conduct further investigation into the matter. The CBI was asked to file status report on its investigation in three months. The top court had ordered that panel’s report should be kept confidential in sealed cover.

Earlier, the top court had directed the Kerala government to cough up Rs 50 lakh compensation for compelling Narayanan to undergo “immense humiliation”.  (Agency)

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