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CBI to study Supreme Court order to decide further action in ISRO espionage case

Thiruvananthapuram: Former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan speaks to media, in Thiruvananthapuram, Friday, Sept 14, 2018. The Supreme Court today held Narayanan was "arrested unnecessarily, harassed and subjected to mental cruelty" in a 1994 espionage case and ordered a probe into the role of Kerala police officers. (PTI Photo) (PTI9_14_2018_000098B)  

The Central Bureau of Investigation will study the Supreme Court order, directing it to look into the Justice D.K. Jain Committee report on senior Kerala police officials who allegedly framed space scientist Nambi Narayanan in the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) espionage case of 1994, to decide further course of action.

“As soon as we get a certified copy of the order, it will be studied and a decision taken on whether the probe should be handed over to a special team or a unit,” said a CBI official. The agency has to furnish a report on the findings to the Supreme Court within three months.

The case, initially pursued by the Kerala police, was transferred to the CBI on December 4, 1994, on the State government’s reference. In its closure report, the CBI had submitted that the espionage charge against the scientists at the ISRO, including Mr. Narayanan, was not proved and was found to be false. The findings were accepted by the court.

‘No evidence’

As regards the role of Siby Mathews, who headed the Special Investigation Team that earlier conducted the probe, the CBI had alleged in a report that he did not take adequate steps either in regard to the thorough interrogation of the accused persons by the Kerala police or the verification of the “so-called disclosure” made by them.

“In fact, he left the entire investigation to the IB surrendering his duties. He ordered indiscriminate arrest of the ISRO scientist and others without adequate evidence being on record...,” said a CBI report addressed to the then State Chief Secretary, listing other alleged lapses. It has been mentioned in the Supreme Court’s September 2018 order, based on which the Justice D.K. Jain Committee was constituted.

Among the other investigating officials were S. Vijayan, the then Inspector, Special Branch; and K.K. Joshwa, the then Deputy Superintendent of Police, CB CID.

Police lapses

The CBI later submitted in the court that in spite of highlighting several lapses and faults on the part of the police officials while carrying out the investigation against Mr. Narayanan and other accused persons, the State government failed to take any action against the erring officials.

“Learned counsel for the respondent no. 4 (CBI) has submitted that the conduct of the police officials is criminal in nature as per the investigation and report submitted by the CBI. The investigation of the CBI had clearly established that the investigation carried out by the State police was full of lapses and also involved employment of illegal means such as criminal torture,” as recorded in the 2018 order.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 7:58:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/isro-espionage-case-cbi-to-study-supreme-court-order-to-decide-further-action/article34352202.ece

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