Former Indian Space Research Organisation scientist Nambi Narayanan has filed a petition objecting to the anticipatory bail application of ex-Kerala Director General of Police Siby Mathews, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. Mathews is accused of framing Narayanan in a 1994 espionage case.
Maldivian nationals Mariyam Rasheeda and Fauzia Hassan have also filed petitions in the Thiruvananthapuram district sessions court, urging the court to hear them before passing any order. Mariyam and Fauzia were earlier accused of having played a role in transferring rocket technology to Pakistan.
In response to the petitions, Mathews has challenged the claim that the scandal damaged the scientist’s career. He said Narayanan had applied for voluntary retirement scheme ten days before Mariyam’s arrest and requested top ISRO officials to waive the three-month notice period.
The court will hear the anticipatory bail application and the impleading petitions on July 12.
The Central Bureau of Investigation began its investigation in the wrongful arrest of Narayanan and others after a Supreme Court order in April on the basis of a report filed by a three-member committee led by retired judge DK Jain. Mathews is one of the 18 persons named as the accused.
Mathews, who was heading the Special Investigation Team investigating the espionage case, claimed that the Thiruvananthapuram city police chief at that time had said that the case was registered as per the instructions of the central agencies. Mathew pointed out that he had told the then state police chief to recommend the Kerala government to transfer the inquiry to the CBI as it involved several states and various central government organisations.
“If there was any conspiracy or bad faith on the part of the petitioner, he ought not have recommended the transfer of probe to another agency,” his application said.
Before this, Mathews claimed that Intelligence Bureau officials had pressured him and other senior state police officials to arrest Narayanan.
Two other former Kerala police officers, S Vijayan and Thampi S Durga Dutt, have also filed bail petitions before the court. On Wednesday, the CBI opposed their bail saying that Narayanan’s false implication delayed the development of India’s cryogenic technology, PTI reported.
The espionage case
Narayanan and six others were accused of transferring certain confidential documents on India’s space programme to Russia, Pakistan and other countries. The documents allegedly pertained to ISRO’s cryogenic programme.
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 not enough evidence to substantiate the accusations.
In 2015, Narayanan moved the Supreme Court seeking criminal and disciplinary action against the officers who allegedly framed him. In September 2018, the court said that Narayanan was a victim of the allegations made by the Kerala Police, and granted him a compensation of Rs 50 lakh.