On Thursday, the Supreme Court approved the report of a three-member panel in the ISRO espionage case against Nambi Narayanan, led by former Supreme Court Justice (retd) D K Jain, and ordered that it should be handed over to the CBI for further action.

Justice A M Khanwilkar’s bench was considering the centre’s plea and the report submitted by Justice (retd) D K Jain. The centre had put its weight on this report that was filed by the high-level panel calling it a national issue.

Judges have once again cast a ray of hope for the safety of our Indian scientists with this decision. All eyes are now on the CBI inquiry to see how the wrongdoers are put on trial. The case of Dr. Nambi Narayanan demonstrates the importance of having a clear legal framework in place to protect their integrity and rights. The question remains, however, whether our legislators have the confidence to do so or not.

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In 2018, the apex court had formed this panel to probe the role of culpable police officials behind Narayanan’s arrest. The top court had also directed the Kerala government to cough up Rs 50 lakh compensation for causing humiliation to Narayanan.  The Supreme court in 2018 said that Narayanan’s “liberty and dignity”, basic to his human rights, were jeopardised as he was taken into custody and, eventually, despite all the glory of the past, was compelled to face cynical abhorrence.

Nambi Narayanan is a highly accomplished scientist who headed the Cryogenics department of ISRO and his work in liquid propulsion was instrumental for the development of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle or PSLV: the rocket that carries most of the projects by ISRO into space. Unfortunately, Narayanan’s road to greatness was riddled with dark happenings, as he was wrongfully accused of selling classified information to foreign spies, all because of possible political scheming.

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