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Nambi Narayanan awarded 50 lakh compensation for wrongful arrest, SC calls for probe
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Nambi Narayanan awarded 50 lakh compensation for wrongful arrest, SC calls for probe

Murali Krishnan

The Supreme Court today awarded Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist Nambi Narayanan compensation of Rs. 50 lakh for wrongful arrest.

The Court has also constituted a Committee to be headed by former Supreme Court judge, Justice DK Jain, to ascertain whether action needs to be taken against erring police officials.

Nambi Narayanan was needlessly arrested and tortured, the Court observed today. The panel headed by Justice DK Jain will have two other members, one each to be nominated by the Centre and the State of Kerala.
Nambi Narayanan awarded 50 lakh compensation for wrongful arrest, SC calls for probe

Nambi Narayanan was a scientist at ISRO and was in charge of the Cryogenics division. In 1994, he was falsely accused of leaking defence secrets to enemy countries and was arrested by the Kerala Police under the Official Secrets Act.

He was later acquitted of all charges in 1998.

He had then initiated litigation for action against erring police officials who had framed the false case against him. He had accused the Kerala Police and Intelligence Bureau of torturing him with a view to extracting statements from him.

He first approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking compensation for the torture and agony inflicted upon him.

The NHRC had awarded him an interim compensation of Rs. 10 lakh.

Narayanan then filed a writ petition in Kerala High Court challenging the decision of the State to refrain from taking any action against erring police officers. A Single Judge of the High Court allowed the same. However, a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court had turned down his plea, leading to the present appeal in the Supreme Court.

The Court in its judgment today made it clear that the entire prosecution initiated by the State police was malicious and it caused tremendous harassment to the appellant.

The Court even went to the extent of noting that the criminal law was set in motion based on “some kind of fancy or notion”. Despite all his past glory, Nambi Narayanan was compelled to face cynical abhorrence.

“…the entire prosecution initiated by the State police was malicious and it has caused tremendous harassment and immeasurable anguish to the appellant.  The criminal law was set in motion without any basis. It was initiated, if one is allowed to say, on some kind of fancy or notion. The liberty and dignity of the appellant which are basic to his human rights were jeopardized as he was taken into custody and, eventually, despite all the glory of the past, he was compelled to face cynical abhorrence.”

This situation invites the public law remedy for grant of compensation for violation of the fundamental right envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution, the Court held.

Supreme Court, therefore, held that “State of Kerala to pay a sum of Rs. 50 lakhs towards compensation to the appellant and, accordingly, it is so ordered. The said amount shall be paid within eight weeks by the State. We hasten to clarify that the appellant, if so advised, may proceed with the civil suit wherein he has claimed more compensation. We have not expressed any opinion on the merits of the suit“.

It also ordered the constitution of a committee headed by former Supreme Court judge DK Jain to find out ways and means to take appropriate steps against the erring officials. The Committee will function out of New Delhi.

Read Judgment:

Nambi-Narayanan.pdf
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Image taken from here.