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Supreme Court directs CBI to probe the fake 1994 espionage case against ex-ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan

Welcoming the court order, the 78-year-old Narayanan said it was certain that there was a conspiracy behind the espionage case of 1994.

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe the framing of former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan in the 1994 fake espionage case by Kerala police and file a report in three months.

A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Krishna Murari heard the Centre’s application that cited a report by a three-member panel regarding the role of senior police officers in implicating the scientist. The bench said, “the report says it’s a serious matter which needs deeper investigation”.

The top court asked the Registry to forward a copy of the report to the Director or acting Director of the CBI. The bench granted CBI the liberty to treat the report as a preliminary report and made it clear that the copy of the report shall not be published or circulated in public.

The order directing the CBI to probe the fake espionage case was welcomed by former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan.

Welcoming the court order, the 78-year-old Narayanan said it was certain that there was a conspiracy behind the espionage case of 1994.

“I would get justice only if the probe into the conspiracy is carried out. I don’t have full details. I welcome the probe. It was a fabricated case. CBI closure report had already stated it. The Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission had attested that the case was fabricated. Now, it has to be revealed who has fabricated it,’’ he said.

The 1994 espionage case: CBI finds allegations of syping against Nambi Narayanan to be false

The case pertains to espionage charges levelled by Kerala police officials against Nambi Narayanan and his associates in 1994. The police had then alleged that Nambi and his colleagues had transferred confidential documents on India’s space programme to foreign countries, particularly to Pakistan.

It is pertinent to note that scientist Nambi Narayan was a victim of persecution by the Congress party. The political rivalry between the two factions of the Kerala Congress party led to the arrest of Narayanan, along with two other scientists D Sasikumaran and K Chandrasekhar in November 1994. The Kerala police had levelled charges of espionage under sections 3,4 and 5 of the Official Secrets Act against the scientists.

However, the CBI, in its probe, found that the allegations against him were false. In 1998, the Supreme Court upheld the findings by the CBI and had asked the Kerala government to pay Rs 1 lakh in compensation to Narayanan and others. However, Dr Narayanan had approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)seeking justice for the harassment and agony meted out to him. In 2001, the NHRC had awarded a compensation of Rs 10 lakhs to him.

While absolving Narayanan of any wrongdoing, the CBI had said that Siby Mathews had left “the entire investigation to IB surrendering his duties” and ordered the indiscriminate arrest of the scientist and others without adequate evidence”.

SC gives a clean chit to Nambi Narayanan, orders Rs 50 lakh compensation for his wrongful arrest

The Supreme Court gave a clean chit to the former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan and awarded a compensation of Rs 50 lakhs in September 2018, for his wrongful arrest and harassment by the Kerala Police in 1994 ISRO spy case. The apex court had also ordered a probe into the role of the police officers involved in Narayanan’s arrest and alleged harassment in custody.

The space scientist had moved the apex court after the Kerala High Court ordered that “no action needed to be taken” against former DGP Siby Mathews, who was then heading the SIT probe team, two retired superintendents of police, K K Joshua and S Vijayan, and the then Deputy Director, Intelligence Bureau, R B Shreekumar, who were later held responsible by the CBI for the scientist’s illegal arrest.

Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra had then observed that “the criminal law was set in motion without any basis. It was initiated, if one is allowed to say, on some kind of fancy or notion”.

The Supreme Court said that his “liberty and dignity”, basic to his human rights, were jeopardised as he was taken into custody and, eventually, despite all the glory of the past, was compelled to face “cynical abhorrence”.

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