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Nambi Narayanan , Rtd ISRO scientist

The observation of the Supreme Court that a former scientist of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Nambi Narayanan was “unnecessarily arrested and harassed” and its award of Rs 50 lakh in compensation for the “mental cruelty” he suffered all these years manifests a shocking story of miscarriage of justice. The apex court’s appointment of a three-member panel headed by a former judge of the court to probe the “harrowing” arrest and alleged torture of the former space scientist caps a sordid drama. That the reprieve to him has come almost a quarter of century after Narayanan began his legal battles in various forums for his honour and justice is a sad commentary on the prevailing system.

Narayanan, who was discharged in the case, has accused the Kerala police and the IB of torturing and extracting statements from him. The former ISRO scientist, who is now in his seventies, had approached the apex court after a Division Bench of the State High Court refused his plea. Challenging the legality of the High Court Division Bench order, Narayanan said it was “bad in law”. He argued that the order “would only encourage the unlawful action and mindset on the part of the Kerala police to harass innocent persons for extraneous considerations.” In 1998, the apex court had directed the State government to pay cost of Rs 1 lakh to Narayanan. Later, Narayanan approached the National Human Rights Commission awarded him an interim compensation of Rs 10 lakh on March 14, 2001. That compensation has now been enhanced to Rs 50 lakh.