Bombay High Court grants bail to former BrahMos engineer accused of spying for Pakistan's ISI

The Nagpur bench observed that the applicant had been in jail for 4.5 years with no possibility of concluding the trial in the near future.
Nagpur Bench, Bombay High Court
Nagpur Bench, Bombay High Court

The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court earlier this month granted bail to Nishant Aggrawal, a former engineer at BrahMos Aerospace Pvt Ltd, booked for allegedly spying for Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI [Nishant Aggrawal v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Anr.].

Single-judge Justice AS Kilor granted bail to Aggrawal on the ground that he had been in prison for about 4.5 years and the trial was nowhere near conclusion.

“Moreover, prima facie, there is no material to suggest that the alleged act was committed by the applicant with intention. To secure the presence of the applicant at the trial, certain stringent conditions can be imposed” the court held, proceeding to grant bail.

Aggrawal was employed in the technical research section of BrahMos’ missile centre at Nagpur. 

He was arrested in 2018 in a joint operation by the Military Intelligence and the Anti-Terrorism Squads (ATS) of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra after he was booked for offences under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

Senior Advocate SV Manohar, appearing for Aggrawal, highlighted that Aggrawal had been in prison for the last 4 years and six months.

He stated that the allegation prima facie failed to show that Aggrawal had committed the act with a purpose of harming the interest of the State.

At the most Section 5 of OSA would apply for which the maximum punishment is 3 years, it was contended.

Since Aggrawal had been incarcerated for a substantive period, he should be granted bail, Manohar argued.

The Court was also informed that an earlier bail application of June 2022 had been rejected after prosecution assured the Court they would take steps to conclude the trial within 6 months.

The Court had then granted liberty to Aggrawal to move a fresh bail application if there was no progress in the trial.

Due to the slow pace of the trial, Aggrawal filed the second bail application.

Manohar submitted that 6 witnesses had been examined so far and 11 witnesses were left to be examined. 

He also pointed out that in the trial, every adjournment was of one month because the witnesses were from Uttar Pradesh.

The Court agreed with Manohar’s contention and deduced that the prosecution had not alleged that there is danger to the security and safety of the State, if Aggrawal is released on bail.

Accordingly, it proceeded to grant bail upon furnishing bail bond of ₹25,000 with a solvent surety of like amount.

[Read order]

Nishant Aggrawal v. State of Uttar Pradesh and another.pdf
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