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Two Maldivian Women Held in 1994 ISRO Spy Case Move Kerala HC

In Kerala
July 15, 2021

Two Maldivian nationals — Mariyam Rasheeda and Fouziyya Hassan — who were also arrested in the ISRO espionage case in 1994 along with scientist Nambi Narayanan, have moved the Kerala High Court opposing the anticipatory bail plea of two former Kerala police officers who were involved in their arrest and detention back then.

The two women have alleged that the joint plea moved by S Vijayan and Thampi S Durga Dutt “contains false contentions” and if any relief was granted, then justice would be denied to the Maldives nationals.

The two former officers have sought anticipatory bail in a case registered by CBI for various offences, including criminal conspiracy, kidnapping and fabrication of evidence,under the Indian Penal Code, in connection with arrest and detention of Narayanan.

The 18 accused in the CBI case includes then Intelligence Bureau (IB) officers also.

In their petition, filed through advocate Prasad Gandhi, the two women have sought to be impleaded in the anticipatory bail plea of the two former police officers which is likely to be heard on July 19.

Earlier on July 7, CBI had opposed the plea of the two former Kerala police officers, saying they falsely implicated Narayanan in a “concocted case” which led to delay in development of India”s cryogenic technology.

CBI has said that the offences against the two accused were serious in nature as they both “played an active role and concocted an espionage case in pursuance of the conspiracy with the other accused in the FIR (registered by CBI) and other unknown persons”.

Vijayan and Dutt were part of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) which arrested the scientist and the two women.

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

The three-member committee, headed by former apex court judge Justice (retd) D K Jain, was appointed by the top court in 2018 after acquitting Narayanan in the case.

The Supreme Court had also directed the Kerala government to pay Rs 50 lakh as compensation for compelling Narayanan to undergo “immense humiliation”.

The espionage case 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 CBI, in its probe that time, had held that 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.