ISRO spy case: Kerala HC grants interim bail to two ex-cops

The Kerala High Court on Monday granted two weeks interim bail to two former Kerala Police officials in the infamous ISRO spy case which has been reopened with new proceedings initiated by the CBI.

The single judge bench said that the two — S. Vijayan and Thampi S. Durgadutt — should not be arrested and if the probe agency arrests them, they should be produced in the court and given bail the same day itself.

Vijayan and Dutt are the first and second accused in a new FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) with the Thiruvananthapuram Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court last month.

In this FIR, 18 people, including top former Kerala Police and Intelligence Bureau officials, have been charged for conspiracy and fabrication of documents.

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

Nambi Narayan was freed by the CBI in 1995 and since then he has been fighting a legal battle against those who falsely implicated him. Things changed for him 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.

On June 28, a new team of the CBI from New Delhi arrived in the state capital to look at the case from a different angle, and ascertain if there was any conspiracy on the part of the probe teams of the Kerala Police and the IB.

Sources in the know of things revealed that the new CBI team has already started their probe and will very soon call the witnesses and those named in the FIR and speculations are that they might even arrest some.

The list of accused in the FIR includes former Gujarat DGP and then IB Deputy Director, R.B. Sreekumar, Kerala’s former DGP Siby Mathews, besides other police officials which include Vijayan, Durgadutt, and K.K. Joshua, who were all from the local police, which first registered the ISRO spy case.

Apart from Mathews, another official whose name figures in the FIR has also secured anticipatory bail and the news is that many others are also approaching the court for similar relief as they fear they might be arrested.

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