NEW DELHI: Former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan, who was discharged in an espionage case, has moved the Supreme Court seeking criminal and disciplinary action against former DGP Siby Mathews and other police officials who were part of Special Investigation Team which had probed the matter.
A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant will hear tomorrow his appeal against the judgement of the division bench of the Kerala High Court which had said that no action was required to be taken against former DGP and two retired Superintendents of Police, K K Joshua and S Vijayan, who were held responsible by CBI for his illegal arrest. Mathews is currently Kerala Chief Information Commissioner.
The 74-year-old 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 1 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 an interim compensation of Rs 10 lakh on March 14, 2001.
Challenging the legality of the high court's division bench order, Narayanan said it was "bad in law" and has sought interim stay contending that "the illegality in the judgement impugned, if allowed to perpetuate, would only encourage the unlawful action and mindset on the part of the Kerala police to harass innocent persons for extraneous considerations. "And unless action as suggested by the CBI is immediately taken, (possibly under the provisions of Section 195 of the IPC if for any justifiable reason departmental action could not be taken), the innocent public would suffer at the hands of the Police.
"Hence, it is appropriate that the impugned judgement of March 4, 2015 of the High Court of Kerala... is stayed and the State Government initiate action as deemed necessary during the pendency of this SLP," he said in his petition. 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. This order was challenged by Mathews on the ground that there were sufficient reasons for the arrest of Narayanan and other accused in the case.
The appeal of Mathews and another cop Joshua was allowed by the division bench saying no action was required against them after a lapse of 15 years. Referring to the CBI report, relied by Narayanan, the bench had observed that the report of CBI was only an opinion. "Government may consider or may not consider such opinion," it had said.
The bench had also said the government's decision to drop action was in the light of the report of the state police chief. Right from the Chief Judicial Magistrate court to the Supreme Court, no action was recommended against SIT, it had said. A report was sent to the state government by CBI alleging lapses in the investigation carried out by the members of SIT. Considering the report, and after getting the opinion of the state police chief, government had decided not to proceed with the case.
Challenging this, Narayanan had moved the high court seeking action against the officers for their alleged lapses and the single judge had passed the order in his favour. The senior scientist had been accused of being involved in the espionage case but was later discharged. The ISRO spy case had surfaced in 1994 when Narayanan, along with another top official of ISRO, two Maldivian women and a businessman, was arrested on espionage charges.