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SOURCE: Hindustan Times

Former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan’s arrest in the 1994 alleged spy scandal was “needless and unnecessary”, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday and ordered Rs 50 lakh compensation for the scientist who had accused the police of falsely framing him in the case.

The top court also set up a committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge Justice DK Jain to inquire into the role of Kerala police officials in the arrest of the scientist at India’s space agency, ISRO, or Indian Space Research Organisation.

Nambi Narayanan, 76, had petitioned the court to seek prosecution of senior police officials for framing him in the alleged spy scandal.

Reacting to the court order, Narayanan said, “I am happy justice has prevailed.”

He said he felt “better now than earlier”, but added that there should be a time-frame for the completion of the probe by the panel appointed by the court, reported PTI.

On the compensation of Rs 50 lakh awarded to him, he said officials responsible for his arrest should be made to pay the amount and also the fine.

Former director general of police Sibi Mathew refused to comment.

The scientist was arrested after the Kerala police arrested Mariam Rasheeda, a Maldivian woman, on October 20, 1994. Though she was arrested for overstaying in India, police later accused her of being involved in a sex-spy scandal.

It was alleged that Rasheeda was the intermediary between the organisation and two more women. She was accused of passing on Isro’s cryogenic programme secrets to the women, who in turn supplied the same to Russia and Pakistan’s ISI.

Two years later, the CBI cleared all the accused, who were discharged in May 1996. CBI also filed a closure report before the court. But a change in the government re-opened the probe. The earlier consent given by the state to the CBI to investigate the case was withdrawn and the Kerala police was asked to hold a fresh inquiry.

In 1998, the Supreme Court quashed the state government’s decision. On Narayanan’s petition, the Kerala high court, in September 2012, ordered the state government to pay Rs 10 lakh as interim relief to the scientist. Later, in October 2014, action was ordered against the errant police officials.

However, a division bench reversed the order in March 2015, which Narayanan challenged before the Supreme Court. His grievance is that despite the CBI probe indicting the police officers, the state has not taken any action against them.