ISRO spy case: SC notice to Kerala, ex-cops on Nambi’s plea

Thursday, Jul 9, 2015,22:01 IST By metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | Supreme Court today sought responses from former Kerala DGP Siby Mathews and other police officials on a plea of former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan seeking criminal and disciplinary action against them for implicating him in an espionage case in which he was discharged.
The apex court also issued notices to the CBI and Kerala Government on his petition challenging the High Court verdict which had said that no action was required to be taken against the former DGP and the two retired Superintendents of Police — K K Joshua and S Vijayan, who were held responsible by central agency for Narayanan’s illegal arrest. A bench of justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant sought their responses within eight weeks.
74-year-old Narayanan moved the apex court seeking criminal and disciplinary action against Mathews, currently Kerala’s Chief Information Commissioner, and the policemen. He has appealed against the judgement of the division bench of the Kerala High Court which had said that no action was required to be taken against the former DGP and the two retired Superintendents of Police.
Senior advocate V Giri, who appeared for Narayanan, submitted before the apex court that the petition pertained to the atrocities of the police when they had arrested the renowned scientist of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in 1994 without any justifiable reason as the same was evincible from the report submitted by the CBI.
He said the CBI had recommended taking appropriate action against the erring police officials but the Kerala government, instead of taking action, issued a notification appointing a special investigating team to probe the matter. The counsel said that on June 29, 2011, Kerala government passed an order stating that it was neither proper nor legal to take any action against the erring officials.
Narayanan challenged this order before the single bench of the Kerala High Court which allowed the plea and quashed the state government’s order while directing suitable action to be taken against the erring officials. Aggrieved by the single judge’s order, Mathews and the other two officials approached the division bench of the high court which upheld the order of the State Government.
The counsel also said when liberty of a person, and that too a scientist of high repute, is comatosed in such a manner, it is obligatory on the part of the State Government to take stern action against the erring officials. He contended that the high court division bench had failed to appreciate the reasoning of the single judge who had expressed his agony with regard to the cruelty meted out to the petitioner.
In a situation like this, if the erring officers are allowed to go scot-free solely because they have attained the age of superannuation, it may give a long rope to the investigating agency to take anyone into custody without a reason. Such a situation would be an anathema to the concept of justice, the counsel argued. In the petition, the former ISRO scientist said the division bench of the high court had failed to appreciate the real undercurrent that passed through the mind of the apex court, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the single judge of the high court in their verdict and on untenable reasons, quashed the order of the single judge.
The apex court had in 1998 granted compensation of Rs one lakh to Narayanan and others who were discharged in the case and directed the state government to pay the amount. Later, Narayanan approached NHRC claiming compensation against the state government for 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 interim compensation of Rs 10 lakh on March 14, 2001. The petition said that imposition of exemplary cost by the apex court and conservative compensation were deterrent in nature so that the same blunder for which such cost and compensation are awarded against the State is not repeated by the State and its blue-eyed officers.
Earlier, the single bench of high court had directed Kerala government to take action against three SIT officials, including its head Mathews, on the basis of a CBI report.