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SC orders CBI to probe ISRO espionage case frame-up

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Stock photo: Supreme Court of India

New Delhi, Apr 15 (MNN) Asserting that the 1994 ISRO espionage case was a “serious matter” that required further investigation, the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the CBI to probe the case wherein then ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan was framed and arrested.

A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar also took on record a report submitted by a former apex court Judge  DK Jain who was asked to look into the wrongs committed by Kerala police against Narayanan.

The bench said that since the panel had not been asked to adjudicate in the case but only assist the court, further probe could be done by the Central Bureau of Investigation, which will submit a report within three months.

The court registry was ordered to give one copy of the Jain panel report to the CBI chief/acting chief, adding that the central agency was at liberty to treat the report as preliminary. 

The Supreme Court also said that the report will neither be published, nor circulated in public.

Narayanan was deployed in the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Cryogenics Division when he was accused of leaking defence secrets to other countries in 1994. He was later arrested by Kerala Police under the Official Secrets Act.

However, he was acquitted in 1998, following which he sought action against police officers who he said framed him in the false case. He had also accused police and Intelligence Bureau of torture in custody.

The since-retired ISRO scientist — a Padma Bhushan awardee – had approached the National Human Rights Commission for compensation, which ordered Rs 10 lakh as interim compensation.

Narayanan later moved the Kerala High Court against a state government decision not to take action against police officers concerned. The HC initially allowed his plea, which was however turned down by a HC division bench, after which the ISRO official turned to the Supreme Court for succour.

Reacting to the development, Narayanan said on Thursday that he was happy that the case had been entrusted to the central agency. “Let us hope that the CBI does a fair job,” he remarked while pointing out that the agency had access to all the documents in the case.


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