The Supreme Court ordered a compensation of Rs 50 lakh to be paid to Nambi Narayanan, a former scientist with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The Supreme Court said that the compensation has to be paid by the state of Kerala within eight weeks.
The apex court also formed a three-member committee headed by retired SC judge DK Jain to inquire into the role of Kerala police officers in the arrest and torture of the scientist. KK Joshua, Sibi Mathews and S Vijayan were the officers from whom the compensation will be sourced.
The three-judge bench comprising CJI Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, in its judgement, said, "We think it is appropriate to direct the state of Kerala to pay a sum of Rs. 50 lakhs towards compensation to the appellant and, accordingly, it is so ordered. The said amount shall be paid within eight weeks by the State. We hasten to clarify that the appellant, if so advised, may proceed with the civil suit wherein he has claimed more compensation. We have not expressed any opinion on the merits of the suit."
"The criminal law was set in motion without any basis. It was initiated, if one is allowed to say, on some kind of fancy or notion. The liberty and dignity of the appellant which are basic to his human rights were jeopardized as he was taken into custody and, eventually, despite all the glory of the past, he was compelled to face cynical abhorrence," the judgement stated.
Reiterating that there can be no doubt about Nambi Narayanan's innocence, the judgement said, “If he obtaining factual matrix is adjudged on the aforesaid principles and parameters, 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 Court cannot lose sight of the wrongful imprisonment, malicious prosecution, the humiliation and the defamation faced by the appellant".
Nambi Narayanan is a former ISRO space scientist was arrested in December 1994 after being accused of selling state secrets pertaining to confidential test data from rocket and satellite launches. Charged with espionage, the case was transferred to the Intelligence Bureau (IB) for investigation. He was in custody for 50 days, and after his release, he claimed that the IB officials who interrogated him wanted him to testify falsely against some of his superiors.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) then took over the case and found no evidence linking him to the alleged sale of state secrets to other countries. The charges against Nambi Narayanan were dismissed by the CBI in 1996 and subsequently by the Supreme Court which declared him not guilty in 1998 and awarded him a compensation of Rs 1 lakh which was to be paid by the Kerala government.
Nambi Narayanan then approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking compensation for the torture and mental agony that he and his family members were subjected to during the case. The NHRC directed the Kerala government to pay Rs 10 lakh as compensation for Nambi Narayanan.
This is the first time that the Supreme Court will erase all the adverse records against a person to restore his reputation.