Nambi Narayanan, the ace space scientist whose life and career were ruined by a sensational false spy case foisted by the state police in the 1990s, recently won a reprieve when the Kerala High Court asked the state government to award him a compensation of Rs 10 lakhs.
But today the aging scientist has more reasons to be frustrated than being consoled: the Kerala government has reportedly dropped the CBI’s long-pending recommendations for action against the police officers who falsely implicated him in the case.
The Hindu reported on Wednesday that the state government has closed the file in which the CBI has suggested action against the police officials for their “unprofessional conduct”. The CBI, which took over the case from the state police in the mid 1990s, not only found no evidence against the scientist and the other accused, but also sent a report to Kerala government on the role of some police officials.
Reportedly the file had been pending with the government since 1996. The then LDF government and the subsequent governments dragged their feet on the issue and finally the present Oomen Chandy government has closed the file. One of the officers, against whom action was suggested, went on to become an ADGP and is presently the chief information commissioner.
People who are familiar with the Indian space programme knew Nambi Narayanan as the man behind the Vikas engine, that is crucial to India’s celebrated launch vehicle the PSLV. He was at the peak of his career when the mysterious case conjured up by the police threw his life out of gear. Later the CBI as well as the Supreme Court found the case to be baseless.
Narayanan had since been fighting court cases to restore his reputation and to punish the officials who ruined his life and career. He also thought there was a larger conspiracy behind the case.
His tragic life, which also included a 50-day jail term and alleged custodial torture, will soon be immortalised on screen by Kerala’s superstar Mohan Lal.
The Kerala government’s order is not just a let down for people who believe in the principle of natural justice, but a scary comment on the brutal power of the state taking on its citizens – willfully or by mistake. It also shows that the state’s power is ideology-neutral: both the Left and the Congress who shared power since the mid 1990s took no reparative action.
If a few police officials could cripple the life and career of an ace space scientist, what is the security of a disenfranchised citizen?