Indian Space Research Organisation. (File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

Thiruvananthapuram, June 25 : A Thiruvananthapuram court on Friday granted anticipatory bail to former Kerala Director General of Police Siby Mathews, named in a fresh FIR registered by the Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI) in the infamous ISRO spy case.

The CBI on Thursday registered an FIR with the Thiruvananthapuram Chief Judicial Magistrate's Court against 18 people, including two top former Kerala police officials, who have been charged for conspiracy and fabrication of documents.

Things changed for the victim S. Nambi Narayanan, a former ISRO scientist, after numerous long-drawn court battles when the Supreme Court in 2020 appointed a three-member committee headed by retired judge Justice D.K. Jain to probe if there was a conspiracy among the then police officials to falsely implicate Narayanan.

The apex court, which went through the report, ordered the CBI to conduct a new probe, and its FIR, apart from Mathews, has 17 other officials from the Kerala Police and also from the Intelligence Bureau (IB).

Mathews approached the court and secured his bail, as reports indicate that the CBI might go in for arresting those who are named as accused in the FIR.

Mathews, who was Kerala DGP in 2011, took voluntary retirement months before he was to be superannuated and became Kerala's Chief Information Officer. He has since retired from the post during 2016 and is now settled in the state capital.

The list of accused includes former Gujarat DGP and then Intelligence Bureau (IB) Deputy Director, R.B. Sreekumar, besides other police officials which includes S. Vijayan, Thampi S. Durgadutt, K.K. Joshua, who were all from the local police, which first registered the ISRO spy case.

The ISRO spy case surfaced in 1994 when Nambi Narayanan was arrested on charges of espionage along with another senior ISRO official, two Maldivian women and a businessman.

The CBI freed Narayanan in 1995 and since then he has been fighting a legal battle against Mathews, Vijayan and Joshua who probed the case and falsely implicated him.

Incidentally the case emerged amid a factional feud in the Congress between then Chief Minister K. Karunakaran and A.K. Antony's factions that was at its peak following which Karunakaran had to quit office in 1995. Karunakaran quit his chair after it was found that he had shielded his close aide and senior police official, Raman Srivastava, who later became the state police chief and after retirement, he was the advisor to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan till recently.

Nambi Narayanan has now received a compensation of Rs 1.9 crore from various agencies, including the Kerala government which in 2020 paid him Rs 1.3 crore and later awarded Rs 50 lakh as directed by the Supreme Court in 2018 and another Rs 10 lakh as directed by the National Human Rights Commission.

The compensation was because the former ISRO scientist had to suffer wrongful imprisonment, malicious prosecution and humiliation.

In 2019, Nambi Narayanan was awarded the Padma Bhushan and whenever Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Kerala for political rallies, he often refers to the travails faced by Narayanan and how the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) treated him with respect and consideration.

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