Trial in ISRO frame-up case may take time to begin

Updated - July 11, 2024 09:13 pm IST

Published - July 11, 2024 09:01 pm IST - KOCHI

The trial in the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) espionage frame-up case may take a significant time to begin as a host of legal options are available for the accused to challenge the case proceedings, including the chargesheet filed against them.

The Central Bureau of Investigation had filed a chargesheet against four former Kerala Police officials and an Intelligence Bureau official in the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Thiruvananthapuram.

The agency named police officers S. Vijayan, Siby Mathews, K.K. Joshua, P.S. Jayaprakash and former Intelligence Bureau official R.B. Sreekumar as the accused in the case.

The CBI listed Maldivian national Mariam Rasheeda, who was allegedly molested by the first accused Vijayan and illegally detained and tortured by all the other accused, as a witness.

The other prominent witnesses include former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan, who too was illegally detained and tortured by the accused, former top police officer Raman Sreevasthava, and a few journalists who had covered the issue when it unfolded two decades ago.

The accused need not appear in person in court on July 26 when the CJM considers the case. The accused, if being served with summons from the court, can appear through their lawyers and seek an adjournment for appearance or appear in person and obtain bail after fulfilling the bail conditions imposed by the court.

Later, they can challenge the proceedings adopted by the magistrate in the case. The accused can move a discharge petition before the CJM arguing that there is no sufficient grounds for framing charges against them.

They can argue for discharge up to the Supreme Court in the event of the CJM and the High Court turning down the discharge pleas. The legal process may take significant time to complete and the trial will be put on hold till the appeal courts adjudge on the plea of the accused, sources say.

In the event of the dismissal of the discharge petitions, the trial will be held in the CJM court, Thiruvananthapuram, itself as the offences charged against the accused are triable by a magistrate court. The CJM, who is the senior-most magistrate in a district, will consider the case in its due course, judicial sources indicate.

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