The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe the wrongful arrest of former Indian Space Research Organisation scientist Nambi Narayanan in an 1994 espionage case, Bar and Bench reported.

A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar directed that a report filed by a three-member committee chaired by former Supreme Court judge, Justice DK Jain, should be forwarded to the central agency for further action, according to Live Law. Jain was tasked to investigate the officials responsible in the case because of which the prominent space scientist was falsely implicated.

“The report says it is a serious matter which needs deeper investigation,” the court said. “It seems to suggests it is a case of commission and omission.”

Since the committee was only asked to assist and not adjudicate, the investigation will be done by the CBI, the court said. “We direct Supreme Court registry to forward one copy of the report to the director or acting director of CBI,” it added. “CBI will proceed in accordance with law. CBI will be at liberty to treat the report as a preliminary report.”

The court directed that the copy of the report should not be circulated or published. The CBI has to submit a report to the Supreme Court within three months in the case.

In September 2018, the Supreme Court had constituted the committee to find “ways and means to take appropriate steps against the erring officials”.

Narayanan hailed the ruling. “I welcome the decision.. it’s a progress made,” Narayanan said, according to PTI. “It was a fabricated crime. It was stated so in the CBI closure report, then the CJM court accepted it and it was pointed out in the first Supreme Court judgment of April 29, 1998, then in September 14 2018 verdict also.”

ISRO espionage case

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 – Bengaluru-based businessmen Chandrasekharan and SK Sharam – were arrested in November 1994 on charges of espionage. The case 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.

In September 2018, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court led by the then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said he was a victim of the allegations made by the Kerala Police. The Supreme Court had said Narayanan’s arrest was “needles and unnecessary” and had also granted him a compensation of Rs 50 lakh for being subjected to mental cruelty in the case. Besides this, the National Human Rights Commission had recommended Rs 10 lakh compensation.

Narayanan had filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court to challenge the Kerala government decision to not take any action against erring police officers.