The Kerala government on Tuesday handed over an additional compensation of Rs 1.30 crore to former scientist of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) Nambi Narayanan to settle the two-and-half-decade-old spy case in which he was implicated by the state police.
A case was filed by Narayanan (79) in the sessions court in Thiruvananthapuram after the Supreme Court in 2018 ordered that his arrest in the case was “unnecessary and he was implicated” and granted him an interim relief of Rs 50 lakh. The court had also observed that Narayanan deserved more and he could approach a lower court for proper compensation. Earlier, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had also ordered a relief Rs 10 lakh to him.
After the Supreme Court’s order, the Kerala government had asked former chief secretary K Jayakumar to look into the matter and fix an exact compensation amount and arrive at a settlement. Later, his suggestions were submitted before the court and a settlement was clinched. “I am happy. It is not for money alone I fought. My fight was against injustice,” Narayanan said after accepting the cheque.
The Isro spy case relates to allegations of transfer of certain confidential documents and secrets of the county’s cryogenic engine technology to enemy countries by two scientists and four others, including two Maldivian women.
The case had generated enough heat. Many books were written over the sensational case and a Bollywood director had even made a biopic on Narayanan who had to pay a heavy price along with former chief minister K Karunakaran. Its release was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Narayanan was conferred the Padma Bhushan last year.
The case surfaced in 1994 and Karunakaran was forced to quit after a section of his party led by A K Antony and Oommen Chandy revolted against him after the then police chief’s name (Ramon Srivastav) also cropped up in the case. It was alleged that two senior scientists of Isro – Nambi Narayanan and D Sasikumaran – had sold space secrets for money and sexual favours. Two Maldivian women were also arrested in connection with the case. Srivastav was then Inspector General of Police.
However, in 1998, the Supreme Court had quashed the case after accepting the CBI inquiry report that it was cooked up. When the espionage case was unearthed, Narayanan was in-charge of the cryogenic division. He was the first to introduce liquid fuel rocket technology. The country’s space technology had to suffer badly due to the espionage case, he said in one of the interviews pointing to a larger conspiracy in the case.
“Hated by all I thought of committing suicide on several occasions. But I never wanted to die as a traitor. I lived all these years only to tell this,” Naryanana had told the Hindustan Times in one of the earlier interviews