Supreme Court Orders CBI Probe Into 1994 Espionage Case Against Former ISRO Scientist Nambi Narayanan

By SM .15 Apr, 2021




NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the 1994 espionage case against former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist Nambi Narayanan.


Narayanan has welcomed the federal agency probe into the alleged police conspiracy to implicate him in the case. "I am happy. I sought a central agency probe that led to the conspiracy that delayed the country"s cryogenic project" the former ISRO scientist said in Thiruvananthapuram.


The Supreme Court was hearing Centre’s plea seeking consideration of the report filed by a high-level committee regarding the role of erring police officials in the 1994 espionage case relating to Nambi Narayanan, who had been acquitted and was eventually awarded ₹50 lakh compensation by the top court in 2018.


On April 5, the Centre moved the top court seeking urgent hearing and consideration of the panel"s report terming it as a “national issue”.


Supreme Court has on Monday agreed to hear next week Union of India"s IA filed in the case of former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan who was arrested in an espionage case which later turned out to be false.


The Court was informed that recommendations have been made by the committee headed by former SC judge Justice DK Jain, which was formed by SC in 2018 to inquire into the role of police officers in the conspiracy against the ISRO Scientist.


The application has been filed to urge the Court to accept the report filed by the Committee and pass necessary directions to give effect to suggestions given and recommendations made by the committee regarding steps to take against the erring officials.


A three-judge Bench of CJI Bobde, Justice Bopanna and Justice Ramasubramanian agreed to hear the matter next week after a request for an early hearing was made by SG Mehta.


"Justice DK Jain was appointed to recommend what is to be done. The report is submitted but is in a sealed cover. Please list the report tomorrow. Its national-level case" SG Mehta submitted.


"Why tomorrow. We"ll list it next week." the Bench observed.


The Committee headed by former Supreme Court Judge Justice DK Jain, constituted by the Apex Court in 2018 to inquire into the role of police officers in the conspiracy against ISRO Scientist Nambi Narayanan had recently submitted its report on Saturday.


While constituting the Committee, the Court had also granted Nambi Narayanan 50 lakh compensation. The order was passed in a plea filed for action against former top officials of Kerala Police who had allegedly subjected him to torture and illegal detention in connection with the infamous ISRO Espionage Case.


The probe panel appointed by the Apex Court after investigation submitted its report in a sealed cover. The CBI, in its probe, had held that the then top police officials in Kerala were responsible for Narayanan"s illegal arrest.


According to Narayanan, who was given a clean chit by the CBI, the Kerala Police had fabricated the case and the technology he was accused to have stolen and sold in the 1994 case did not even exist at that time.


Nambi Narayanan, an alumnus of Princeton University, was ISRO"s project director for the development of cryogenic technology when he was arrested by the Kerala Police on the allegation that he was involved in leaking official secrets to a spy racket involving Maldives nationals.


He was detained for over 50 days and was allegedly subjected to torture at the instance of top officials of the Kerala Police and Intelligence Bureau. The case was later taken over by the CBI. The central agency found that the case is baseless, and filed a closure report. The CBI report also listed several lapses committed by the officers of Kerala Police and recommended action against them.


The Kerala Government had then issued a notification dated June 27, 1996, and directed further investigation in the case by the first investigation team. This action of the state was challenged by Narayanan before Kerala High Court, which had upheld the notification, consequent to which Narayanan approached the Supreme Court. The apex court allowed the criminal appeal through its judgment dated 29-04-1998 and quashed the notification.