SK Sharma, one of the six men falsely accused in the Indian Space Research Organisation spying case, died on Thursday, reports said. He was suffering from esophageal cancer.

The former labour contractor’s civil defamation suit against the Kerala government and the state police – in which he sought a compensation of Rs 55 lakh for being tortured – had reached the Supreme Court. The top court had granted him Rs 1 lakh in 1998.

Sharma was arrested along with former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan and Bengaluru-based businessman Chandrasekharan in November 1994 on charges of espionage. The case was later handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation. In its final report to the chief judicial magistrate in April 1996, the CBI said there was lack of evidence to substantiate the charges against the six.

A division bench of the Kerala High Court acquitted all the six accused. But the court said there was no need to take action against the former director general of police and retired Superintendents of Police KK Joshua and S Vijayan.

In 2015, Narayanan moved the Supreme Court seeking criminal and disciplinary action against the officers. He accused them of falsely implicating him in the case. On September 14, the Supreme Court granted Narayanan Rs 55 lakh for being subjected to mental cruelty. Chandrasekharan went into a coma hours before the top court’s verdict in Narayanan’s case and died two days later, The News Minute reported.

In an interview prior to his death, Sharma had shared details of his ordeal with NDTV. “They hit me,” Sharma had said. “After half an hour, this person would vanish. Another person would come. They said, ‘you passed ISRO and defence information to Pakistan’. I cried and cried but they were unrelenting. They did not let me sit on the ground for three days.” He had said his family was humiliated and ostracised because of the false accusations.

Sharma told The Hindu in September that he wanted to clear his name. “I want to leave something financially for my family,” the former contractor had said.