ISRO Spy Case: SC Grants Rs 50 Lakh Compensation to Narayanan

SC pronounced its judgment on police prosecution for framing Nambi Narayanan in a false spy case.

2 min read
Former senior ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan.

The Supreme Court on Friday, 14 September, announced its judgment on a plea filed by former space scientist, Nambi Narayanan to prosecute the police for framing him in the ISRO spy scandal.

The apex court granted Rs 50 lakh compensation to Narayanan for being arrested by the Kerala police 24 years ago after being falsely implicated in the ISRO espionage case.

The apex court also ordered setting up a constitutional committee headed by former Supreme Court judge, Justice DK Jain to look into the role of the police in framing the false charges against the ISRO scientist.

Terming the police action against 76-year old former ISRO scientist as “psycho-pathological treatment”, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said 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”.

Welcoming the judgment, the former scientist said the Kerala police had “fabricated” the case and insisted that the technology he was accused of stealing and eventually selling in the 1994 case did not even exist at that time.

The CBI took over the case in 1996 and had found the allegations to be false and unproved, which resulted in the discharge of all the accused.

What was the Case?

In 1994, Narayanan was charged with leaking vital defence secrets to Maldivian intelligence officers. Defence officials said the secrets pertained to highly confidential “flight test data” from experiments with rocket and satellite launches. Nambi Narayanan was one of two scientists who were accused of selling ISRO secrets for millions.

The plea by Narayanan for criminal and disciplinary action against the Kerala police was heard by a three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra. Narayanan had accused the Intelligence Bureau and the Kerala police of torturing him to extract information.

The bench also considered the possibility of paying enhanced compensation to Narayanan, and had reserved its judgment in July.

Narayanan had approached the Supreme Court after a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court refused his request to launch proceedings against the police, The Hindu reported.

Arguing against the High Court’s Division Bench order, Narayanan’s lawyer said that the order “would only encourage the unlawful action and mindset on the part of the Kerala police to harass innocent persons for extraneous considerations” (as quoted by The Hindu).

In 1998, after quashing the Kerala Government’s attempt to reopen the case, the Supreme Court had directed the State Government to pay him Rs one lakh as compensation.

Later, when Narayanan approached the National Human Rights Commission, the NHRC awarded him an compensation of Rs 10 lakh in March 2001 after hearing both sides and taking the apex court’s judgment into account. The Kerala Government had tried to challenge this enhanced compensation, but had lost their cases.

(With inputs from The Hindu and PTI)

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