Panel probing ISRO ‘frame up’ case to begin work in two days

“I have received a call from Justice Jain’s office to come before the committee,” says Nambi Narayanan.

A three-member Committee chaired by former Supreme Court judge D.K. Jain is scheduled to begin work on unravelling the rogue officials responsible for the infamous ISRO “frame-up” case of 1994, which destroyed the life and reputation of Nambi Narayanan, one of the country’s prominent space scientists.

The Justice Jain committee is expected to sit at Thiruvananthapuram on December 14 and 15.

ISRO spy case | Maldivian national seeks damages for illegal custody

“I have received a call from Justice Jain’s office to come before the committee. I will help with whatever information I can give them about what happened,” Mr. Narayanan told The Hindu on Friday.

The panel is having its first sitting two years after the Supreme Court constituted it in September 2018 to find “ways and means to take appropriate steps against the erring officials.”

It could either opt to function from Delhi or hold meetings at an appropriate place in Kerala.

ISRO spy case | A watershed in rights litigation, says Nambi Narayanan

At the time of his arrest on November 30, 1994, Mr. Narayanan was working on cryogenic engine technology at the premier Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The police investigators had accused him of passing on documents and drawings of ISRO relating to Viking/Vikas engine technology, cryogenic engine technology and PSLV flight data/drawings to Pakistan.

But the Supreme Court dismissed the case in 2018 as a criminal frame-up based on “some kind fancy or notion.” It said Mr. Narayanan’s career was “smothered.” The scientist himself had said the prosecution launched by the Kerala Police had a “catastrophic effect” on his career and personal life, besides setting back the technological advancement in space research.

ISRO spy case | Nambi Narayanan’s long and bitter battle to clear his name

The CBI, which took over the probe from the Kerala Police, had promptly filed a closure report in 1996. But Mr. Narayanan fought on to bring his accusers to justice.

The apex court, in its 2018 judgment, had called the treatment meted out to the scientist while he was in custody “psycho-pathological”. The court ordered the Kerala government to pay Mr. Narayanan ₹50 lakh in compensation, though it said mere money was not enough to make up for the torture the scientist had endured for 24 years. An enquiry was called for to look into the circumstances behind the “frame-up.”

ISRO spy case | Nambi Narayanan gets ₹1.3 crore additional compensation

Mr. Narayanan, in his petition before the Supreme Court, had arraigned former Kerala DGP Siby Mathews, K.K. Joshwa and S. Vijayan (the latter two had retired in senior positions in the police), as responsible.

The court had allowed the Central Government and the State Government to nominate one officer each to the committee. The Centre had appointed a top official, D.K. Prasad, and the Kerala government appointed former additional chief secretary, V.S. Senthil.

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