It has been justice at the end of nearly 25 years of ordeal under a sham spy case for rocket scientist S Nambi Narayanan when the Supreme Court today ordered the State Government to pay him compensation of Rs 50 lakh.
It was relief for the mental agony and loss of reputation that he suffered. Narayanan had also had to be behind bars in the falsely hoisted case. The three-member bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, directed constitution of a committee headed by Supreme Court retired judge D K Jain to ascertain whether action needed to be taken against erring police officials implicating the former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist in the espionage case.
Narayanan was needlessly arrested and tortured, the court observed. In his reaction, Narayanan told the media in Thiruvananthapuram that his main contention was not compensation, but action against the erring police official, including Kerala’s former DGP Siby Mathews and senior officers KK Joshua and S Vijayan.
Narayanan was arrested in 1994 along with another ISRO scientist D Sasikumaran on grounds of spying. The police charge was that the two had passed on secret defence documents, including those relating to cryogenic engines, to other countries, especially Pakistan. Over a fortnight after the case was registered, it was handed over to the CBI. The central agency found that the Kerala police and the Intelligence Bureau had been unprofessional in handling the case.
In 1996, the agency closed the case, exonerating Narayanan and the court accepted the closure report. However, the State Government ordered a reinvestigation which was subsequently quashed by the apex court. Narayanan then moved the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for a compensation of Rs 1 crore. The Commission ordered an interim compensation of Rs 10 lakh and this was upheld by Kerala High Court in 2012.
When the High Court turned down his plea for criminal and disciplinary action against the erring police officials, Narayanan moved the apex court in 2015 on which the ruling was made today. The case had serious political repercussions as it was believed to be the handiwork of a section in the Congress and targeted against the then Chief Minister late K Karunakaran.
His daughter and party leader Padmaja said five leaders were behind the conspiracy and she would reveal details to the apex court-appointed commission. Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, whose group was alleged to be behind the conspiracy, refused to comment on the verdict despite several efforts by mediapersons.
He first approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking compensation for the torture and agony inflicted upon him. The NHRC had awarded him an interim compensation of Rs. 10 lakh.