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Center Moves SC for urgent hearing in ISRO espionage case

Kashish Jain

Recently, the Center moved the Supreme Court seeking an urgent hearing on the reports filed by the high-level committee. This report is about the role of erring officials in the 1994 espionage case related to the ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan. Nambi Narayanan had been acquitted and was awarded INR 50 Lakh as compensation by the top court.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta listed this matter for urgent hearing before the Bench. The Bench, headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, stated that this matter would be heard in a few days. The Bench also comprises Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

The Solicitor General told the bench that the said report filled by the committee can be considered as a national issue and is urgent, to which the Bench stated that it understands the importance of the matter, but does not feel that it needs urgent attention. Previously, the Apex Court appointed a three-member panel to direct the Kerela Government to procure INR 50 Lakh as compensation for the intense humiliation Narayan had to undergo.

The Court had also ordered for a committee to be set up to take appropriate steps to punish the erring officials for causing tremendous harassment and anguish to Narayan. The Court directed the Center and the State governments to nominate one officer each in the panel.

The espionage case hit the headlines about the allegations of transfer of confidential documents on India’s space program to foreign countries by 2 scientists and four others. These people included to Maldivian women. About such leakage, the scientist was arrested when the Congress was heading the government in Kerela.

Then, CBI in its probe had held the top police officials in Kerela were to be held responsible for Narayanan’s illegal arrest. This case also witnessed a political fallout with a section in the Congress targeting the then chief minister. This harassment led to the late K Karunakaran resigning from his job.

The former scientist (who was given a clean chit by the FBI) has stated that the Kerela Police fabricated the case and the technology he was accused to have stolen and sold in 1994 did not exist at the time.

The Apex Court has stated in its previous order, “There can be no scintilla of doubt that the appellant, a successful scientist having national reputation, has been compelled to undergo immense humiliation. The lackadaisical attitude of the state police to arrest anyone and put him in police custody has made the appellant suffer the ignominy”

Then the Apex Court had accepted the plea of the Appellant that authorities responsible for the harrowing experience should bear the brunt of legal consequences.

The CBI, while giving clean chit to the scientist, had said the Siby Mathews had left the “entire investigation to IB surrendering his duties”. He had also ordered the indiscriminate arrest of the scientist and others. This was done without adequate evidence.