ISRO espionage case | Centre urges Supreme Court to accept panel report on Nambi Narayanan frame-up

Top court likely to take up matter next week

April 05, 2021 02:56 pm | Updated 02:56 pm IST

Nambi Narayanan. File

Nambi Narayanan. File

NEW DELHI

The Centre has put its weight behind a report filed by a three-member committee chaired by former Supreme Court judge, Justice D.K. Jain, tasked to unravel rogue officials responsible for the infamous Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) “frame-up” case of 1994 that destroyed the life and reputation of Nambi Narayanan, one of the country’s prominent space scientists.

The Centre has applied to the top court, urging it to accept on record the inquiry report submitted by the Justice Jain Committee and take suitable action on the suggestions made against the “erring officials”. The court may take up the case next week.

Mr. Narayanan, in his petition before the Supreme Court, had arraigned former Kerala ADGP Siby Mathews and former senior police officials K.K. Joshwa and S. Vijayan.

The Supreme Court constituted the Justice Jain Committee in September 2018 to find “ways and means to take appropriate steps against the erring officials”.

The court had allowed the Central government and the Kerala government to nominate one officer each to the committee. The former appointed top official D.K. Prasad, and the latter appointed former Additional Chief Secretary V.S. Senthil.

At the time of his arrest on November 30, 1994, Mr. Narayanan was working on cryogenic engine technology at premier space agency ISRO. Police investigators had accused him of passing on to Pakistan documents and drawings of ISRO relating to Viking/Vikas engine technology, cryogenic engine technology and PSLV flight data/drawings.

‘Criminal frame-up’

The Supreme Court had dismissed the case in 2018 as a criminal frame-up based on “some kind fancy or notion”. It said Mr. Narayanan’s career got “smothered”. The scientist himself had said the prosecution launched by the Kerala police had a “catastrophic effect” on his career and personal life, besides setting back technological advancement in space research.

The CBI, which took over the probe from the Kerala police, had promptly filed a closure report in 1996, but Mr. Narayanan had fought on to bring his accusers to justice.

The top court, in its 2018 judgment, had called the treatment meted out to the scientist while he was in custody as “psycho-pathological”.

Though it had ordered the Kerala government to pay Mr. Narayanan ₹50 lakh as compensation, the court said mere money was not enough to make up for the torture the scientist had endured for 24 years. An inquiry was called for into the circumstances behind the “frame-up”.

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