ISRO case: HC dismisses plea claiming Nambi Narayanan influenced CBI probe by land deals

Kochi, Nov 15 (PTI): The Kerala High Court on Monday dismissed the plea of a former police officer, accused of falsely implicating Nambi Narayanan in a spying case in 1994, who had alleged that the ex-ISRO scientist influenced the CBI probe against him back then.

The court said an unnecessary investigation or even a preliminary enquiry into an offence under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act against a public servant “may cause blemish on his career and reputation”.

“Once such a blemish is caused, it would be very difficult to erase it. What matters is not just that the complainant alleges commission of an offence. The complaint must disclose the commission of an offence by some person. Investigation cannot be ordered on the basis of a complaint which is not supported by genuine materials,” the court said.

Former Kerala Police officer S Vijayan had alleged that Narayanan influenced the CBI probe by entering into land deals worth crores with the then investigating officials of the agency.

He had sought a direction to CBI to investigate into the allegations of graft made by him against the scientist, his son and then officials of the agency who had taken over the probe in the espionage case from the Kerala police.

Vijayan had initially moved a complaint before a Special Court alleging commission of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and after it was rejected, he filed an appeal in the High Court.

Justice R Narayana Pisharadi on Monday dismissed Vijayan’s appeal saying the Special Court rightly turned down his plea to order an investigation as he had not produced sufficient materials to substantiate his allegations.

“I have perused the complaint. The allegations in the complaint (by Vijayan), prima facie, do not attract the ingredients of the offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (before its amendment in the year 2018) .

“I do not find sufficient grounds to interfere with the discretion exercised by the Special Judge,” Justice Pisharadi said.

The High Court also noted that the complaint was only rejected and not dismissed by the Special Court.

“Rejection of a complaint does not preclude the complainant from filing a fresh complaint with adequate materials….the dismissal of this revision petition will not preclude the petitioner/ complainant from preferring a fresh complaint with adequate materials to substantiate his case. If such a complaint is filed, the Special Judge will have to judicially and judiciously apply his mind and do the needful in accordance with law,” the High Court said.

Vijayan, along with 17 other former Kerala police and IB officials, is facing a CBI probe for allegedly falsely implicating Narayanan and some others in the 1994 spying case.

He had argued before the High Court that he had placed before the trial court encumbrance certificates of several acres of land in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu which show Narayanan or his son as power of attorney holders.

These lands were sold to the CBI officials, Vijayan had alleged and contended that this material was sufficient for the trial court to order an investigation under the Prevention of Corruption Act against the scientist and the agency officials.

Rejecting the contention, the High Court said the referral report in the spying case was filed by CBI in 1996 and one of the sale deeds produced by the complainant was of 2004.

“Merely on the basis of a transaction of property involving respondent No.8 (Narayanan), which took place eight years later, commission of the offences punishable under the PC Act cannot be inferred. This document is sufficient only to raise suspicion. Further, encumbrance certificates issued in respect of landed properties, by themselves, are not sufficient to prove the transactions mentioned therein,” the High Court said.

Vijayan and three others were granted anticipatory bail by the High Court in August in the CBI’s conspiracy case against them.

Besides the four, 14 others are named as accused in the case for various offences, including criminal conspiracy, kidnapping and fabrication of evidence in connection with the arrest and detention of Narayanan in the espionage case.

Besides Narayanan, two Maldivian women — Mariyam Rasheeda and Fouziyya Hassan — were also arrested and detained in the case. The two women were jailed for over three years before being released.

The two Maldives nationals recently moved the CBI requesting it to place before the Supreme Court their claim for damages of Rs 2 crore from each of the 18 officers who are arrayed as accused in the conspiracy case being probed by the agency.

The women have urged the agency to place their claim for damages before the apex court when it hears CBI’s appeal against the Kerala High Court order granting anticipatory bail to the four accused – a former DGP of Gujarat, two former police officers of Kerala, and a retired intelligence official – in the conspiracy case being probed into by the agency.

The agency, in its appeal, has sought cancellation of the anticipatory bail granted to the four accused by the High Court on August 13. PTI