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ISRO Espionage Case: SC Orders Probe & Awards Rs. 50 Lakh Compensation To Nambi Narayanan

ANANYA BHATNAGAR | 0
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| September 14 , 2018 , 15:38 IST

The Supreme Court on Friday awarded compensation worth Rs. 50 Lakh to a former scientist of the Indian Space Research Organization for wrongful arrest and prosecution.

A three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and comprising of Justice DY Chandrachud and AM Khanwilkar were hearing petition filed by former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan

The petition appealed for action against former top officials of Kerala Police who had allegedly subjected Narayanan to torture and illegal detention in connection with the infamous ISRO Espionage Case. The bench also ordered a probe and constituted a committee headed by former Supreme Court judge DK Jain and two others.

The other two members of the DK Jain committee would be nominated by the Kerela Police and Central Government each.

Judgment

The bench pronounced, “The entire prosecution initiated by the State police was malicious and it has caused tremendous harassment and immeasurable anguish to the appellant. It is not a case where the accused is kept under custody and, eventually, after trial, he is found not guilty. The State police was dealing with an extremely sensitive case and after arresting the appellant and some others, the State, on its own, transferred the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation. After comprehensive enquiry, the closure report was filed. An argument has been advanced by the learned counsel for the State of Kerala as well as by the other respondents that the fault should be found with the CBI but not with the State police, for it had transferred the case to the CBI.”

The bench further said, “The said submission is to be noted only to be rejected. 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 liberty and dignity of the appellant which are basic to his human rights were jeopardized as he was taken into custody and, eventually, despite all the glory of the past, he was compelled to face cynical abhorrence. This situation invites the public law remedy for grant of compensation for violation of the fundamental right envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution. In such a situation, it springs to life with immediacy. It is because life commands self-respect and dignity.”

What Is The Case All About?

Earlier in 1994, Narayanan was charged under the Official Secrets Act for leaking vital defence secrets to Maldivian intelligence officers. Defense 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.

In 1996, the Central Bureau of Investigation took over the case and had found the allegations to be false and unproven, which resulted in the discharge of all the accused.