The Supreme Court on Friday awarded former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist S Nambi Narayanan a compensation of Rs 50 lakh for wrongful arrest in 1994 on espionage charges. After a 24-year long legal battle, a bench of Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, awarded compensation to the rocket scientist for loss of reputation and mental agony.
The Supreme Court bench also directed that a committee be constituted, headed by retired Supreme Court judge DK Jain, to investigate into the role of the Kerala police officers, who were involved in falsely implicating the scientist under the Official Secrets Act. The court observed that Narayanan was "needlessly arrested and tortured".
Narayanan has been fighting the case since 1994 to clear his name in the espionage case and for compensation. He had filed a plea in Supreme Court for action against the police officers involved in wrongly accusing of passing secret scientific documents to outsiders and external agencies. He had accused the Kerala Police and Intelligence Bureau of torturing him with a view to extracting statements from him, according to The Bar and Bench.
Narayanan, along with another ISRO scientist D Sasikumaran, was arrested in 1994 as the Kerala Police had claimed had passed on secret documents, including those relating to cryogenic engines to other countries, especially Pakistan. The case was handed over to the CBI within 20 days of being registered, but the agency found the case to be false. The CBI also found the Kerala police and Intelligence Bureau to have acted "unprofessionally" in the matter, News18 reported.
Narayanan was exonerated after the CBI's closure report was accepted by a Kochi court in 1996. However, in May 1996, the then Kerala government ordered a re-investigation, which was quashed by the Supreme Court in 1998. Narayanan subsequently moved the National Human Rights Commission, seeking a compensation of Rs 1 crore for his trials and tribulations. The NHRC had ordered for an interim compensation of Rs 10 lakh, which was upheld by the Kerala High Court in 2012.
However, a division bench of the Kerala High Court turned down his plea for action against erring police officials, leading to the present appeal in Supreme Court.
Post the Supreme Court verdict, Narayanan spoke to the media and said that there was "no evidence against him" and that "the people who framed him thought they could get away with what they had done". He, however, said that he was hoping for a CBI enquiry as he fears that there is a "conspiracy from another country involved in this".
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy also tweeted in support of the Supreme Court order.
I welcome the SC Orders on the Rocket Scientist Nambi Narayanan. He was a victim of the international jealousy against India’s capability to produce world’s cheapest satellite launching rocket launchers. Shame on UPA
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) September 14, 2018
Read the full text of the Supreme Court judgement, first reported by The Bar and Bench:
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Updated Date: Sep 14, 2018 13:39:50 IST