The ISRO spy case is now in the court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday ruled that the report of the three-member Justice D K Jain Committee, which probed the allegation that certain police officials falsely dragged senior scientist Nambi Narayanan into a fictitious sex-spy racket, should be forwarded to the CBI for further action.
Whether it should take up the investigation or not has been left to the discretion of the CBI. "Registrar Judicial shall forward a copy of the report to the Acting Director, CBI, who may proceed in accordance with the law. Open to the CBI to treat the report as a preliminary enquiry report and proceed accordingly," the order said.
Whatever the decision, the CBI will have to report to the Supreme Court within three months. The CBI had in 1996 taken up the case from the Kerala police and had given its closure report, fully exonerating Nambi Narayanan.
The contents of the DK Jain Committee is not known and the Supreme Court specifically ruled that its contents should not be made public. It was not given to either Nambi Narayanan or the accused policemen, namely Siby Mathews, K K Joshua and S Vijayan.
When he was arrested on November 30, 1994, Nambi Narayanan was working on cryogenic engine technology at the ISRO. The police said he handed over classified information to Pakistan after falling into a honey trap involving two Maldivian women.
Though he was cleared of all charges by the CBI, Narayanan sustained a legal fight against the Kerala police. In 2018, while directing that a committee be set up to probe the police action, the Supreme Court described the police treatment of Narayanan as "psyco-pathological", and ordered the Kerala government to pay the scientist a compensation of Rs 50 lakh.
"There can be no scintilla of doubt that the appellant, a successful scientist having national reputation, has been compelled to undergo immense humiliation. The lackadaisical attitude of the state police to arrest anyone and put him in police custody has made the appellant to suffer the ignominy," the apex court said in the 2018 order.
During the hearing on Friday, the counsel for one of the police officers, Siby Mathews, said that the Committee did not take Mathew's version. "Accused is not supposed to be heard before the registration of the FIR. That is the first principle." Justice Khanwilkar, who was in the bench, said.
Accused IPS officer's version
Siby Mathews, in his autobiography 'Nirbhayam', said he had enough evidence to arrest the top scientist. The major evidence was the statement of Chandrasekharan, the PRO of GlavKosmos (the Russian space agency with which India had entered into a purchase deal for cryogenic engine in 1990), who was arrested from Bangalore. Chandrasekharan had told the police that Nambi Narayanan was found with Fowzia Hassan inside a room of a hotel in Thiruvananthapuram city where a team of the Russian space officials were staying.
Chandrasekharan had seen Nambi Narayanan while walking along the corridor of the hotel. Chandrasekharan's statement said that Fowzia had told him that they were "talking business". When the Russian PRO told her that he too was interested in the business, Fowzia said: "Master will be coming to Madras. You can talk business with master directly."
The other evidence was circumstantial, Mathews said in the book. "Nambi Narayanan had made innumerable calls to foreign countries like America, Russia and Australia from the phone in his house. The phone, however, was taken in the name of Kurien Kalathil, a big-shot contractor," he said.
According to Mathews his failure to get in writing the then Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Rajagopal's order to arrest Narayanan had made the arrest seem like an arbitrary act.