Compensatory Jurisprudence of Constitutional Courts VI: S. Nambi Narayanan

ABCThe exposé of facts very succinctly put is that on 21.10.1994, Mariam Rasheeda, a Maldivian National, was arrested and sent to Judicial Custody. During interrogation, she made certain confessions alleging that certain official secrets and documents of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) had been leaked out by scientists of ISRO.

On 30.11.1994, S. Nambi Narayanan, the Appellant, was arrested. After the investigation, the CBI submitted a report before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Ernakulam stating that the evidence collected indicated that the allegations of espionage against the scientists at ISRO, including the Appellant, were not proved and were false. Accused were discharged.

On 27.06.1996, the State Government of Kerala, decided to conduct re-investigation of the case by the State Police. The notification for re-investigation was challenged before the High Court of Kerala but the notification was upheld. Aggrieved, the Appellant moved this Court by filing a Special Leave Petition.

The Appellant was arrested and he suffered custody for almost fifty days. His arrest has been seriously criticized in the closure report of the CBI. The harassment and mental torture faced is obvious.
 The criminal law was set in motion without any basis. The liberty and dignity of the Appellant which are basic to his human rights were jeopardized as he was taken into custody and, eventually, despite all the glory of the past, he was compelled to face cynical abhorrence. This situation invites the public law remedy for grant of compensation for violation of the Fundamental Right envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution.  Reputation of an individual is an insegregable facet of his right to life with dignity. There can be no scintilla of doubt a successful scientist having national reputation, has been compelled to undergo immense humiliation. The lackadaisical attitude of the State Police to arrest anyone and put him in Police Custody has made the Appellant suffer the ignominy. The dignity of a person gets shocked when psycho-pathological treatment is meted out to him.

In the instant case suitable compensation has to be awarded. We think it appropriate to direct the State of Kerala to pay a sum of Rs. 50 Lakhs towards compensation to the Appellant within eight weeks.”

Hon’ble Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, S. Nambi Narayanan, [Civil Appeal Nos. 6637-6638 of 2018].