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Kerala CM presents compensation to ex-ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan in public function

The former scientist was awarded the compensation by the Supreme Court last month after it exonerated him of all charges in the 1994 ISRO espionage case

india Updated: Oct 09, 2018 22:07 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
ISRO spying case,Pinarayi Vijayan,ISRO spy case compensation
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan hands over the compensation amount, ordered by the Supreme Court, at the state secretariat’s Durbar Hall, Thiruvananthapuram, on Tuesday.(HT Photo)

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan presented a cheque for Rs 50 lakh compensation to Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) former cryogenic division head S Nambi Narayanan, who was given a clean chit in the 1994 spy case, at a special function in the state secretariat Tuesday.

Addressing the event held at the Durbar hall, Vijayan said there are many lessons to from the ISRO espionage case so the government had arranged a public function to honour the scientist who fought a 24-year legal battle and won.

“We should salute his determination. There is a lot to learn from the Supreme Court verdict, especially for those who are dealing with such issues. So the government wants to award the compensation in a public function,” he said adding the government will take legal advice whether this amount can be levied from the police officers named in the case.

In its verdict September 14, the apex court had awarded Rs 50 lakh compensation to 76-year-old scientist for being subjected to “mental and physical torture” in the case, relating to allegations of transfer of certain confidential documents to enemy countries by two scientists and four others, including two Maldivian women. It had directed the state government to pay relief within eight weeks.

“I lived all these years for justice. I thank the state government for organizing such a function,” Narayanan said, adding the country also suffered badly due to the trumped-up case as ISRO’s cryogenic capability was delayed more than a decade.

He also expressed confidence that the conspiracy angle will also come out before the judicial commission appointed by the apex court.

Critics however said the Vijayan government had organized the function to only to embarrass a section of Congress leaders who allegedly whipped up the case as part of an intense faction feud in the party in 1990s.

According to political commentators, few other cases can match the ISRO spy case for the heat it generated over two and a half decades and which is likely to continue for some more time, while the Supreme Court decision to set up a judicial commission will add to it. Many books were written on the sensational case and a Bollywood director had announced a biopic on Narayanan who had to pay a heavy price along with then Congress chief minister K Karunakaran.

Narayanan had introduced liquid fuel propulsion technology in the country in late 1970s while his senior APJ Abdul Kalam was heading the solid propulsion system. While Kalam rose to greater heights and eventually became the president of the country in 2002, Narayanan’s world crashed when he was arrested along with fellow scientist D Sasikumar for allegedly selling space secrets to two Maldivian women in 1994.

While the names of then prime minister PV Narasimha Rao and his son Prabhakara Rao had also cropped up during the investigation, it had affected the political career of Karunakaran, who was replaced by AK Antony as chief minister, was sidelined in the party and quit to float his own outfit. He rejoined the Congress a few years before his death in 2010.

Soon after the verdict in September, Karunakaran’s daughter Padmaja Venugopal said the entire conspiracy was hatched by five leaders and their roles will come out in the course of the judicial probe. She also said she will reveal their names if the commission called her to depose before it.

First Published: Oct 09, 2018 22:06 IST