ISRO espionage case: Kerala court adjourns anticipatory bail plea of ex-DGP to July 12

A court here on Wednesday adjourned till July 12 the hearing on the anticipatory bail plea of former Kerala DGP Siby Mathews in a case registered by CBI against him and 17 other police officers in connection with the ISRO espionage case. They have been booked for offences including criminal conspiracy and kidnapping and fabrication of evidence, under the IPC, in connection with arrest and detention of former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan in the 1994 espionage case.

Principal District and Sessions Judge P Krishnakumar posted the matter to next week after the District court was told that bail applications of two other accused in the case were pending before the Kerala High Court and that the matter was likely to be heard during the day.

“If similar matters are pending before the High Court, let’s see what happens there,” the court said.

Besides Mathews’ anticipatory bail plea, Narayanan’s application to be impleaded in the matter was also listed before the district court.

Right at the start of the hearing, Mathews’ lawyer opposed the impleadment application of Narayanan.

Narayanan, represented byadvocate C Unnikrishnan, has opposed grant of any relief to Mathews.

During the brief proceedings, the district court was also told that the two Maldives nationals — Mariyam Rasheeda and Fousiya Hasan — who were also arrested in the espionage case would be filing impleadment applications as well.

In his anticipatory bail plea, Mathews has claimed he and senior Kerala Police officers were pressurised by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to arrest Narayanan in the espionage case.

He had also claimed cases under the Foreigners Act and the Official Secrets Act were registered against Rasheeda based on the information received from the IB and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) that she had “undesirable connections with some ISRO scientists and her activities were prejudicial to interest and security of India.”

Rasheeda was, thereafter, arrested on the instructions of a then senior IB officer, Mathews, who had headed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the espionage case, has claimed.

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”.

The espionage case, which had hit the headlines then, 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 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.

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