THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Thiruvananthapuram district sessions court on Tuesday granted an anticipatory bail to former Kerala DGP Siby Mathews in the conspiracy case registered by CBI against him and 17 other police officers in connection with the ISRO espionage case.
Earlier, the CBI had approached the court seeking custody of Siby Mathews to interrogate him as part of their investigation. He is the fourth accused in the case and was booked for offences including criminal conspiracy and kidnapping and fabrication of evidence, under the IPC, in connection with the arrest and detention of former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan in the 1994 espionage case.
Siby Mathews in his bail plea argued in the court that Nambi Narayan was arrested on the instructions of the Intelligence Bureau, and the CBI team which initially investigated the case sabotaged the probe. He had also claimed that cases under the Foreigners Act and the Official Secrets Act were registered against spy case accused Mariam 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 then senior IB officer, Mathews, who had headed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the espionage case.
However, the CBI also argued against the bail plea that Nambi Narayanan was assaulted in custody. Narayanan and the Maldivian woman accused in the spy case had joined the party against the bail plea of Siby Mathews. The High Court had granted anticipatory bail to the other four accused in the conspiracy case.
Earlier this month, the High court granted anticipatory bail to former Gujarat DGP RB Sreekumar, two former Kerala Police officers S Vijayan and Thampi S Durga, and a retired IB official PS Jayaprakash in connection with the case.
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) DK 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.