A former director general of police of Kerala has questioned the Centre’s decision to confer the Padma Bhushan on former Indian Space Research Organisation scientist Nambi Narayanan.

TP Senkumar on Friday told Asianet News that the decision to award Narayanan, who was acquitted in the ISRO espionage case last year, the third-highest civilian award was like “mixing poison with nectar”. He also drew parallels between Narayanan and rape and murder convicts.

Narayanan and six others were accused of selling secrets pertaining to ISRO’s cryogenic programme to women who were allegedly spying for Russia, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and other countries. He and two others were arrested in November 1994 on charges of espionage. In September, the Supreme Court said Narayanan’s arrest was “needles and unnecessary”.

“When I was re-investigating the case, I had asked several people in ISRO what his [Narayanan] contribution and everyone replied in negative,” The Indian Express quoted Senkumar as saying. “I had even asked the same question to then ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair. People who sponsored and gave the award should explain what a below-average scientist who took voluntary retirement way back in 1994 has contributed to the nation and ISRO.”

Senkumar questioned the Supreme Court’s decision to appoint a committee to investigate the role of police officers who investigated the case. “How can they award him before findings come out?” he asked.

Narayanan said Senkumar’s comments show that he is willing to stoop to any level, reported The Times of India. He pointed out that Senkumar is a respondent in a Rs 1-crore compensation suit that he has filed. “The matter is sub-judice and I can’t talk about it,” he told Asianet News.

The former scientist said the role of the committee appointed by the top court is to investigate erring police officials. “He [Senkumar] is inconsistent in his remark and it shows that he can stoop down to any level,” Narayanan added.


ISRO espionage case

Narayanan, Bengaluru-based businessmen Chandrasekharan and SK Sharam were among those arrested in November 1994 in the connection with the case. It was later handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation. In its final report to the chief judicial magistrate in April 1996, the CBI said there was lack of evidence to substantiate the accusations.

All the accused were acquitted by a division bench of the Kerala High Court. In its order, the court had said there was no need to take action against the former director general of police and retired Superintendents of Police KK Joshua and S Vijayan. In 2015, Narayanan moved the Supreme Court seeking criminal and disciplinary action against the officers. He accused them of falsely implicating him in the case.