Former Kerala police chief Siby Mathews gets anticipatory bail in ex-ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan’s wrongful prosecution case

Siby Mathews (file photo)   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A Thiruvananthapuram district court has granted anticipatory bail to former Kerala Director General of Police (DGP) Siby Mathews after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had arraigned him as accused in the police frame-up, leading to the wrongful arrest, custodial torture and unjustified incarceration of former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan and others in 1994.

Mr. Mathews is the fourth accused in the case registered in May. He had headed the ‘ISRO spy case’ Special Investigation Team. His deputies at the time, K. K. Joshua, S. Vijayan and Thampi. S. Durgadutt, were also accused of the crime, along with the then Deputy Director, Intelligence Bureau, R. B. Sreekumar.

Former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan

Former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Supreme Court had initiated the case against the retired officers in 2018 after it ordered the Kerala government to compensate Mr. Narayanan for ruining his life, career and reputation. The government later paid Mr. Narayanan ₹50 lakh.

Conspiracy theories

The SC had also simultaneously constituted a three-member committee under Justice D. K. Jain to identify those responsible for trespassing against Mr. Narayan's fundamental rights. The judicial panel found fault with the State police for setting into motion the criminal law process without an iota of evidence and based solely on unfounded conspiracy theories and fancy notions.

In April 2021, the Central government deposed in the Supreme Court that the Jain Commission's findings were grave and warranted a thorough investigation. It requested the apex court to initiate suitable action to bring the erring officers to justice. Subsequently, the SC referred the case to the CBI.

The grim chapter in the annals of the police investigation in Kerala has its origins in a case registered at Vanchiyoor station in Thiruvananthapuram on November 13, 1994.

Based on a "dubious" special branch report, the police had booked two Maldivian women for overstay and violation of the provisions of the Official Secrets Act.

The charging officers accused the women of attempting to entrap ISRO scientists involved in the cryogenic engine procurement project to spy out high-end space secrets out of India for a foreign power.

Soon, newspapers were awash with "ill-informed and salacious" reports about honey traps, stolen rocket designs, ensnared scientists, complicit politicians and conniving police officers.

Opposing factions in the then ruling Congress exploited the scandal to settle scores. The ISRO spy case led to the resignation of then Chief Minister K. Karunakaran.

Mr. Narayanan, fellow scientist D. Sasikumaran, and two ISRO consultants, K. Chandrasekhar and Sudhir Kumar Sharma, were caught up in the vortex of the stormy scandal.

The CBI took over the case in December 1994. It later closed the case for want of evidence. The SC upheld the CBI's closure report.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 5:25:22 AM |

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