The Supreme Court's order for a high-level probe in the 1994 ISRO spy case is likely to cover the role of the then Kerala cops and officials of the Intelligence Bureau who were involved in the investigation leading to the arrest of scientist S Nambi Narayanan and others by falsely implicating them.
Narayanan had accused the state police and the IB officials of torturing and extractng statements from him.
Narayanan has also been on record alleging that R B Sreekumar, a former DGP of Gujarat, was earlier a part of the IB leadership that had "cooked up" the ISRO spy case.
Virtually vindicating Narayanan's stand today, an apex court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud appointed a three-member committee headed by its former judge, Justice D K Jain, saying "appropriate steps need to be taken against the erring officials."
The bench also directed Kerala Government to pay Rs 50 lakh as compensation to Naryanan within eight weeks.
"We think that the obtaining factual scenario calls for constitution of a Committee to find out ways and means to take appropriate steps against the erring officials," it said. The CBI report, quoted in the verdict, also said there were reasons to believe that the interrogators had forced the accused to make statements on suggested lines.
Besides Narayanan, director of cryogenic project at ISRO, others implicated in the case were ISRO's deputy director of D Sasikumaran and Indian representative of a Russian space agency K Chandrasekhar, S K Sharma, a labour contractor, and Maldivian national Mariam Rasheeda and her countrymate Fauzia Hassan.
The case was first investigated by the state police and later handed over to the CBI, which found that no espionage, as was alleged, had taken place.
The CBI's closure report had accused three police officials of Thiruvananthapuram-- Siby Mathews, then DIG Crime of Kerala Police, S Vijayan, then Inspector of the Special Branch and K K Joshwa, then Deputy Superintendent of Police, Crime Brance CID--of falsely implicating the ISRO scientist.
According to the judgment, the CBI report had stated that the evidence collected indicated that the allegations of espionage against the scientists at ISRO, including the appellant (Narayanan), were not proved and were found to be false.
Regarding the role of Mathews, the report had said that Siby Mathew who was heading the Special Investigation Team (SIT) had left the entire investigation to IB surrendering his duties.
"Investigation conducted by the CBI has revealed that he did not take adequate steps either in regard to the thorough interrogations of the accused persons by Kerala Police or the verification of the so called disclosure made by the accused persons.
"In fact, he left the entire investigation to IB surrendering his duties. He ordered indiscriminate arrest of the ISRO scientist and others without adequate evidence being on record," the bench quoted from the CBI report in its judgement.
The CBI report had said that "on being confronted with the statements made by them before Kerala Police as well as IB officials, the accused took the plea that the statements were made on the suggested lines under duress."
It had said that investigation had established that the accused persons were "harassed and physically abused".
"There is reason to believe that the interrogators forced the accused persons to make statements on suggested lines," the report had said.
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