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SC-appointed panel submits its report on the illegal arrest of former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan

The Supreme Court in 2018 had upheld CBI's findings and gave a clean chit to Nambi Narayanan, and ordered a probe into the role of Kerala police officers in the case.

The Supreme Court-appointed panel to probe the role of erring cops for causing “tremendous harassment” and “immeasurable anguish” to ISRO scientist Dr Nambi Narayanan in the 1994 espionage case has reportedly submitted its report to the top court.

The apex court had given a clean chit to Nambi Narayanan in 2018, stating that the former ISRO was arrested unnecessarily, harassed and subjected to mental cruelty in a 1994 espionage case. The court had then ordered a probe into the role of Kerala police officers in the case.

For over two and half years, the panel examined the circumstances leading to the arrest of the distinguished scientist.

On 14 September 2018, the top court appointed a three-member panel headed by its former judge D K Jain while ordering the Kerala government to provide Rs 50 lakhs as compensation for compelling Narayanan to face “immense humiliation”. In addition, the National Human Rights Commission had recommended paying a compensation of Rs 10 lakh. However, the Kerala government had decided to pay a total of Rs 1.30 crore to the scientist to finally settle the case, and the amount was paid in August last year.

Congress governments in Kerala hounded and persecuted Nambi Narayanan in fake espionage case in 1994

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 the 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 bench stated that the “entire prosecution” initiated by the state police was “malicious and it has caused tremendous harassment and immeasurable anguish” to Narayanan. The court said that the fundamental right of life and personal liberty of Narayanan was “gravely affected”. It called the police action against the ex-scientist of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) a “psycho-pathological treatment”.

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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