India

ISRO case: Supreme Court to hear CBI plea to cancel former Kerala DGP Siby Mathews’ anticipatory bail

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) plea to cancel the anticipatory bail granted to former Kerala DGP Siby Mathews, who is accused of conspiring to frame ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan and others in an espionage case in 1994.

A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said the plea would be tagged along with similar petitions filed by the central agency challenging the Kerala High Court's decision to grant bail to the other accused in the case, namely, P.S. Jayaprakash, Thampi S. Durga Dutt, Vijayan and R.B Sreekumar, who were either former intelligence or senior police officers.

The court listed the case on July 27.

The CBI has argued that it has to question Mr. Mathews in custody to retrieve crucial evidence about the alleged conspiracy.

On an earlier date, the CBI had claimed the possibility of a "larger conspiracy involving foreign powers" which had stalled the technology to develop the cryogenic engine by decades.

The CBI had challenged the bail granted to the accused persons at the very "threshold" of its investigation.

"The frame-up led to the arrest of scientists. The technology for the cryogenic engine was deliberately stalled for at least two decades... May be a larger conspiracy involving foreign powers... Grant of anticipatory bail at the threshold may harm the investigation," Additional Solicitor-General S.V. Raju, for the CBI, had submitted at an earlier hearing.

The Kerala High Court, while granting anticipatory bail to Mr. Jayaprakash, Mr. Thampi, Mr. Vijayan and Mr. Sreekumar, had observed that there was “not even a scintilla of evidence" to suggest that the former police officers and intelligence officials were influenced by any foreign power so as to induce them to hatch a conspiracy to falsely implicate the scientists with the intention to stall the activities of the ISRO regarding the development of cryogenic engine.

The CBI had arraigned 18 people as accused in the case after the Supreme Court-appointed Justice D.K. Jain Committee found fault with them for booking cases against the scientists.

The committee had also found that some of the accused were involved in the deliberate leakage of information to the media to create a narrative implicating the scientists and to arrest them without any material on record to show their involvement in the alleged espionage.


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Printable version | Jul 15, 2022 7:16:21 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/isro-case-supreme-court-to-hear-cbi-plea-to-cancel-anticipatory-bail-to-former-kerala-dgp-siby-mathews/article65643123.ece