ISRO spy scandal: SC awards Rs. 50L compensation to scientist
On Friday, the Supreme Court announced its judgement on a plea by former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan to prosecute Kerala police officers who had falsely framed him in the ISRO espionage scandal. The SC granted Narayanan Rs. 50 lakh in compensation and constituted a committee headed by a retired SC judge to probe the role of Kerala police officers in Narayanan's arrest. Here's more.
Who is Nambi Narayanan?
Nambi Narayanan was instrumental in introducing liquid fuel rocket technology in India in the 1970s, and and was part of the team that created the Vikas engine that was used by ISRO's PSLV to deliver Chandrayaan-1 to the moon in 2008.
Backstory: The ISRO espionage scandal
The ISRO espionage case dates back to 1994 when ISRO scientists Narayanan and D Sasikumaran were charged with selling defense secrets to Maldivian intelligence officers. Narayanan was arrested by Kerala police, and was interrogated and tortured by Intelligence Bureau officials. In 1996, the CBI took the case, and declared the charges to be false. Then, in 1998, the Supreme Court also dismissed all the charges.
What state secrets the scientists were charged with selling
Narayanan and Sasikumaran were charged with leaking highly confidential and classified "flight test data" pertaining to rocket and satellite launch experiments to two Maldivian intelligence officials, Mariam Rasheeda and Fauzia Hassan, for 'uncounted millions'.
The NHRC had come down heavily on the Kerala government
In 1999, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) blasted the Kerala government for severely damaging Narayanan's distinguished career in space research, and for the mental and physical trauma inflicted on the scientist. Then, in 2001, the NHRC ordered the Kerala government to pay Narayanan Rs. 1cr as compensation, of which Rs. 10 lakh had to be paid immediately.
Narayanan's search for justice led to the Supreme Court
Subsequently, Narayanan had moved the Kerala High Court to prosecute three senior police officials - the then DIG (Crime), Siby Mathews, the then Circle Inspector (Special Branch), S. Vijayan, and the then Superintendent of Police, K.K. Joshua - involved in his arrest. However, in 2012, the Kerala High Court dropped charges against the trio, prompting the scientist to approach the country's apex court.
Narayanan said his life had been shattered by the scandal
"There was a time when I was shattered. My professional life as a good ISRO scientist was shattered. My personal life was shattered. My wife had problems," Narayanan had told The Hindu when his search for justice reached the Supreme Court.