The New Indian Express - - FRONT PAGE - TIKI RAJWI @ Thiruvananthapuram TAPAS RAN­JAN

WITH the long-awaited Supreme Court ver­dict fi­nally out on Fri­day, wronged space sci­en­tist S Nambi Narayanan says it is high time he did some­thing that he had been putting off for 24 years.

The court on Fri­day di­rected the Ker­ala gov­ern­ment to pay him `50 lakh com­pen­sa­tion for sub­ject­ing him to im­mese hu­mil­i­a­tion and or­dered a high-level probe to take the erring po­lice of­fi­cers to task.

‘’I’ve not spent time with my fam­ily. Now I want to do that. What lit­tle is left of my life, I want to spend with them. I don’t want to pur­sue this any fur­ther,’’ he says.

For the for­mer sci­en­tist branded a spy in the in­fa­mous

ISRO spy scan­dal of 1994 but fully ex­on­er­ated by the Supreme Court four years later - the past 24 years have been an ex­cru­ci­at­ing trial by fire. Al­though the CBI and the Supreme Court had cleared him of all charges by 1998, un­like Fri­day’s ver­dict, there was no di­rec­tive to go af­ter the po­lice of­fi­cers re­spon­si­ble for his in­car­cer­a­tion, Nambi Narayanan points out.

At one point back then, he re­calls, he had even con­tem­plated sui­cide. But his chil­dren sus­pected as much and dis­suaded him from do­ing so. “They said you’re the only per­son who can prove your in­no­cence. If you die, we’ll die as the chil­dren of a spy. That’s how I got the de­ter­mi­na­tion to fight. I was de­ter­mined to

prove my in­no­cence,’’ he says.

At the time of his ar­rest, he was hold­ing sev­eral cru­cial posts in ISRO, in­clud­ing that of cryo­genic project di­rec­tor. As for his fam­ily, “they suf­fered silently. They couldn’t go

out or at­tend any so­cial func­tions. Peo­ple don’t un­der­stand the mag­ni­tude of that suf­fer­ing. That’s the whole prob­lem,’’ he re­mem­bers. And he was fi­nan­cially broke.

But he also re­mem­bers the kind­ness show­ered upon by his neigh­bours dur­ing that pe­riod. “They were very kind. In fact, they ac­tu­ally guarded my house, com­ing and stay­ing with my wife Meena,” he re­calls.

Af­ter his ac­quit­tal, he was of­fered ‘in­fe­rior’ po­si­tions at ISRO. Rather than suf­fer­ing it, he chose a desk job at the ISRO head­quar­ters in Ban­ga­lore. That was in 1996. He re­tired from ISRO five years later, which was when he be­gan a big bat­tle that cli­maxed with Fri­day’s ver­dict.

There can be no scin­tilla of doubt that the ap­pel­lant, a suc­cess­ful sci­en­tist hav­ing na­tional rep­u­ta­tion, was com­pelled to un­dergo im­mense hu­mil­i­a­tion... put(ing) him in po­lice cus­tody has made the ap­pel­lant to suf­fer the ig­nominy — SC bench

THE Supreme Court on Fri­day or­dered com­pen­sa­tion of `50 lakh to the for­mer ISRO sci­en­tist S Nambi Narayanan and held that he was un­nec­es­sar­ily ar­rested and was a vic­tim of ma­li­cious pros­e­cu­tion due to a sham es­pi­onage case.

A bench headed by Chief Jus­tice Di­pak Misra or­dered Ker­ala gov­ern­ment to cough up the com­pen­sa­tion in 8 weeks for loss of his fun­da­men­tal right to live with dig­nity and self-re­spect since his ar­rest on Novem­ber 30, 1994.

It has also given lib­erty to Narayanan to pur­sue his civil suit sep­a­rately for more com­pen­sa­tion if he so de­sires.

Pen­ning down the judge­ment on his own, the CJI said, “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 to suf­fer the ig­nominy.”

“The dig­nity of a per­son gets shocked when psy­chopatho­log­i­cal treat­ment is meted out to him. A hu­man be­ing cries for jus­tice when he feels that the in­sen­si­ble act has cru­ci­fied his self-re­spect. That war­rants grant of com­pen­sa­tion un­der the pub­lic law rem­edy. The court can­not lose sight of the wrong­ful im­pris­on­ment, ma­li­cious pros­e­cu­tion, the hu­mil­i­a­tion and the defama­tion faced by the ap­pel­lant,” the court ruled.

The bench di­rected for con­sti­tu­tion of a three-mem­ber com­mit­tee, headed by re­tired SC judge D K Jain, to in­ves­ti­gate into the role of the Ker­ala po­lice of­fi­cers, who played piv­otal role in im­pli­cat­ing the for­mer ISRO sci­en­tist in the spy­ing case. The Cen­tre and State will nom­i­nate a mem­ber each to the com­mit­tee.

Narayanan has been fight­ing since 1994, first to clear his name in an es­pi­onage case and then for com­pen­sa­tion.


Nambi Narayanan at his res­i­dence in Thiruvananthapuram |

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