Delhi court grants bail to IAF man in espionage case

New Delhi: Delhi’s Patiala House Court on Thursday granted bail to former Leading Air Craftsman (LAC) Ranjith KK, who stands accused of sharing classified documents with Intelligence operatives linked to the ISI, concerning Indian Air Force (IAF) operations and Military Intelligence.

Additional Session Judge Aparna Swami, while pronouncing the decision, stated that Ranjith has already served seven years and approximately 10 months in custody. The judge, after confirming the period of incarceration, cited the applicant’s satisfactory conduct in jail.

“The period of incarceration has also been confirmed by this court by calling the nominal role of the applicant from the jail authorities, which apart from mentioning the period in custody as 7 years 8 months till September 23, 2023, also mentions that the conduct of applicant/accused in the jail to be satisfactory,” the judge noted.

With 12 witnesses yet to be examined, the trial is expected to take more time, prompting the court to invoke the provisions of Section 436A of the CrPC for the grant of bail.

“Further, as 12 witnesses are still to be examined in the case file, this will definitely take time for concluding the trial. Thus, as the applicant/accused has already undergone a substantive period of incarceration, the court is of the opinion that the applicant/accused is entitled to the relief provided by the provisions of Section 436A of CrPC,” read the court order.

“The perusal of the case file shows that the present FIR was registered on December 24, 2015, however the charge sheet in the present case was filed on March 26, 2016. It is important to note here that despite filing of the charge sheet in the year 2016, the committal of the present case took place on December 8, 2017. It is glaring that it took more than three years from the date of committal in the present case, to frame the charge against the applicant/accused on February 4, 2020,” the judge noted.

“This court is conscious of the fact that the charges levied against the applicant/accused are grave and serious in nature. Also, this court has taken into consideration that a number of previous bail applications of applicant/accused Ranjith KK were dismissed by the courts at different levels on merits, including dismissal of Special Leave Petition (SLP) by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India,” the judge said.

“However, those applications were filed under Section 439 CrPC simpliciter, but this application is filed under Section 439 CrPC along with Section 436A CrPC on totally different premise and hence have to be dealt with by this court by taking into account the requirements of Section 436A CrPC,” the court noted.

Ranjith has been directed to furnish a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh along with one surety of the same amount, satisfying the court.

Additionally, he is required to report to the concerned Police Station in the District of Malappuram, Kerala, every 15th day of the month, and provide his contact information.

However, the Additional Public Prosecutor, opposed the bail and expressed concerns about potential tampering with evidence and influence on prosecution witnesses.

The prosecutor argued that the allegations against Ranjith are grave and serious, posing a threat to the nation’s security and integrity.

The case originated from a complaint filed on December 24, 2015 where it was alleged that in May 2012, LAC Ranjith KK came into contact with a Pakistan Intelligence Operative (PIO) named McNaught Damini via Facebook.

Damini purportedly enticed Ranjith to work as a Defence analyst for a UK-based magazine, promising substantial financial rewards. The airman is accused of passing sensitive information related to Air Force Station and other Defence installations through his Facebook ID and email to PIOs McNaught Damini and Alphonsine Davis.

Ranjith has reportedly confessed to his involvement in sharing sensitive and secret information for monetary gain under the guise of being a Defence analyst.


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