Four months after the Supreme Court held that Nambi Narayanan was “arrested unnecessarily, harassed and subjected to mental cruelty” in a 1994 espionage case, the government on Friday honoured the former ISRO scientist with Padma Bhushan.
S Nambi Narayanan’s name featured in the list of 18 Padma Bhushan awardees announced by the government on Friday. He has been awarded for his contribution in the field of Science & Engineering-Space.
As an ISRO scientist, he was instrumental in developing the Vikas engine that would be used for the first PSLV that India launched.
In 1994, he was arrested for selling state secrets comprising confidential test data from rocket and satellite launches and was charged with espionage by Kerala police. He was released on bail three months later.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) later filed a report before a Kerala court, saying the espionage case was false and there was no evidence to back the charges. The court then discharged all the accused.
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In 1998, the Supreme Court awarded compensation of Rs 1 lakh to Narayanan and others and directed the Kerala government to pay the amount.
He later approached the NHRC claiming compensation from the state government for the mental agony and torture suffered by him.
The NHRC, after hearing both sides and taking into account the apex court judgement of April 29, 1998, awarded him interim compensation of Rs 10 lakh in March 2001.
In 2017, the Supreme Court began hearing on Narayanan’s plea, seeking action against former Kerala DGP Siby Mathews and others who had probed the matter.
Terming the police action against the 76-year-old former scientist as psycho-pathological treatment, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra in a Sept 2018 order said that his “liberty and dignity”, basic to his human rights, were jeopardised as he was taken into custody and, eventually, despite all the glory of the past, was compelled to face “cynical abhorrence”.
In his book ‘In Ready To Fire: How India and I Survived the ISRO Spy Case’, Narayanan wrote about the case and his ordeal in detail.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka, had wrote appealed to the Centre in October 2018 to honour the scientist with a Padma award.