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SC orders CBI probe into wrongful arrest of ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the wrongful arrest of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist Nambi.Narayanan in relation to ISRO espionage case.

A Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar took on record the report submitted by former Supreme Court judge, Justice DK Jain who was tasked to look into wrong doings by Kerala Police officials against Narayanan.

“The report says it’s a serious matter which needs deeper investigation. it seems to suggests it’s a case of commission and omission,” the Court remarked.

It said that since the Commission was not asked to adjudicate but only to assist the Court, further probe will have to be done by the CBI.

“We direct Supreme Court Registry to forward one copy of the report to the Director or Acting Director of CBI. CBI will proceed in accordance with law. CBI will be at liberty to treat the report as a preliminary report,” the Court ordered.

Copy of the report shall not be published or circulated in public, the Court added.

The CBI should submit a report to the top court within 3 months, the Bench further directed.

Nambi Narayanan was a scientist at ISRO and was in charge of the Cryogenics division. In 1994, he was falsely accused of leaking defence secrets to enemy countries and was arrested by the Kerala Police under the Official Secrets Act.

He was later acquitted of all charges in 1998.

He had then initiated litigation for action against erring police officials who had framed the false case against him. He had accused the Kerala Police and Intelligence Bureau of torturing him with a view to extracting statements from him.

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.

Narayanan then filed a writ petition in Kerala High Court challenging the decision of the State to refrain from taking any action against erring police officers. A Single Judge of the High Court allowed the same. However, a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court had turned down his plea, leading to appeal in the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court had, in September 2018, held that prosecution initiated by the Kerala police against Narayanan in the mid-1990s in the ISRO espionage case was malicious and had caused tremendous harassment to him.

It had, therefore, ordered a compensation of Rs. 50 lakh to Naryanan and also constituted a Committee headed by Justice DK Jain, to ascertain whether action needs to be taken against erring police officials.

The committee had, after inquiry, submitted its report to the Court in a sealed cover few days ago.

The Central government had also filed an impleadment application in the case urging the Supreme Court to accept the sealed cover report submitted by Justice Jain and seeking strict action against delinquent police officials.


Via Bar & Bench
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