Former Kerala DGP Siby Mathews was on Tuesday granted anticipatory bail by a Kerala court in the case registered by the CBI in connection with the illegal arrest of former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan and two Maldives nationals in a 1994 spying case. The ISRO spy case was reopened after the apex court directed the CBI to look into it.
The relief was granted by Principal District and Sessions Judge P Krishnakumar, advocate V Ajakumar -- who appeared for Mathews -- confirmed.
The order was also confirmed by advocate Prasad Gandhi, who had appeared for the two Maldivian nationals -- Mariyam Rasheeda and Fouziyya Hasan. Both Narayanan and the two women from the Maldives had opposed granting any relief to Mathews.
Recently Kerala High Court had granted an anticipatory bail plea to three former police officers and a retired Intelligence Bureau (IB) official in the same case.
CBI has lodged the case against Mathews and 17 others, including IB officials, for various offences like criminal conspiracy and kidnapping and fabrication of evidence, under the IPC in connection with the arrest of Narayanan and the two Maldives nationals The Supreme Court had on April 15 ordered that the report of a high-level committee on the role of erring police officials in the espionage case relating to Narayanan be given to the CBI and directed the agency to conduct further investigation on the issue.
The three-member committee, headed by former apex court judge Justice (retd) D K Jain, was appointed by the top court in 2018 after acquitting Narayanan in the case.
The Supreme Court had also directed the Kerala government to pay Rs 50 lakh as compensation for compelling Narayanan to undergo "immense humiliation".
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The espionage case, which had hit the headlines in 1994, pertained to allegations of transfer of certain confidential documents on India's space programme to foreign countries by two scientists and four others, including two Maldivian women. The CBI, in its probe back then, had held that the then top police officials in Kerala were responsible for Nambi Narayanan's Illegal arrest.
The case also had a political fallout, with a section in Congress targeting the then Chief Minister late K Karunakaran over the issue, that eventually led to his resignation.
The CBI freed Narayanan in 1995 and since then he has been fighting a legal battle against Mathews, S. Vijayan and Joshua who probed the case and falsely implicated him.
The 79-year-old former scientist, who was given a clean chit by the CBI, had earlier said that the Kerala police had "fabricated" the case and the technology he was charged with having stolen and sold in the 1994 case didn't even exist at that time.
Nambi Narayanan had approached the apex court against a Kerala High Court judgement that said no action needed to be taken against Mathews and two retired Superintendents of Police K K Joshua and S Vijayan, who were later held responsible by the CBI for the scientist's illegal arrest. The case had drawn attention in October 1994 when Rasheeda was arrested for allegedly obtaining secret drawings of ISRO rocket engines to sell to Pakistan.
Narayanan has now received a compensation of Rs 1.9 crore from various agencies, including the Kerala government which in 2020 paid him Rs 1.3 crore and later awarded Rs 50 lakh as directed by the Supreme Court in 2018 and another Rs 10 lakh ordered by the National Human Rights Commission. The compensation was because the former ISRO scientist had to suffer wrongful imprisonment, malicious prosecution and humiliation.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)
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