Former DGP Siby Mathews granted interim bail in ISRO conspiracy case

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(Eds: adding word in 2nd para, minor edits) Thiruvananthapuram, June 25 (PTI) A local court on Friday granted interim bail to former DGP Siby Mathews, who is reportedly arraigned as an accused by the CBI, which has been probing the conspiracyangle behind the 1994 espionage case.

The district court granted interim bail to the official and posted the matter for further hearing to Tuesday, a lawyer closely associated with the proceedings confirmed to PTI.

Mathews, the then head of the SIT probe team, moved the court after reports that the CBI had listed him among the 18 accused in the FIR filed before a Chief judicial Magistrate court here.

The probe agency has reportedly invoked around 10 sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to various crimes, including criminal conspiracy, kidnapping and fabrication of evidence.

The Supreme Court had on April 15 ordered that the report of a high-level committee on the role of erring police officials in 1994 espionage case relating to ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan be given to the CBI and directed the agency to conduct further investigation on the issue.

The court had said that the CBI may treat the panel's findings as part of preliminary investigation and asked the agency to submit its report to the court within three months.

The espionage case, which had hit the headlines in 1994, 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 scientist was arrested when the Congress was heading the government in Kerala.

The CBI, in its probe, 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.

Over a period of almost two-and-a-half years, the panel headed by Justice (retd) D K Jain examined the circumstances leading to the arrest.

The 79-year-old former scientist, who was given a clean chit by the CBI, had earlier said that the Kerala police had 'fabricated' the case and the technology he was charged with having stolen and sold in the 1994 case did not even exist at that time.

Narayanan had approached the apex court against a Kerala High Court judgement that said no action needed to be taken against Mathews and two retired Superintendents of Police K K Joshua and S Vijayan, who were later held responsible by the CBI for the scientist's illegal arrest.

The CBI, while giving a clean chit to the scientist, had said Mathews had left 'the entire investigation to IB surrendering his duties' and ordered indiscriminate arrest of the scientist and others without adequate evidence being on record.

The case had drawn attention in October 1994 when Maldivian national Rasheeda was arrested in Thiruvananthapuram for allegedly obtaining secret drawings of ISRO rocket engines to sell to Pakistan.

Narayanan, the then director of the cryogenic project at ISRO, was arrested along with the then ISRO Deputy Director D Sasikumaran and Fousiya Hasan, a Maldivian friend of Rasheeda.

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