- TP Senkumar dissed Nambi Narayanan as a "below average scientist"
- S Nambi Narayanan was cleared of espionage charges last year
- The alleged espionage case first hit the headlines in 1994
After former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist S Nambi Narayanan -- who was cleared of espionage charges last year -- was named for Padma Bhushan, a former Kerala police chief who investigated him in 1994 questioned the decision.
TP Senkumar dissed Nambi Narayanan as a "below average scientist" and wondered what contribution he has made to deserve the top honour. He also suggested that ISRO scientists be asked if he is worthy of the recognition and demanded an explanation from those who recommended his name.
"What achievement has he made that he is being given this award? Those who selected him for the award need to explain," ex-police chief said.
The former top cop claimed that while he was investigating the scientist, people at ISRO, about 4,000, didn't respond positively when asked about Mr Narayanan.
Mr Senkumar went on to add that if it continues, "criminals would get Padma award next year".
"If this is the yardstick for a Padma award, then people like Govinda Chami, Ameerul Islam (both accused in the killing of two women) and Mariam Rasheeda (an accused along with Mr Narayanan in the ISRO spy case) would get a Padma award next year. The government should have waited," said Mr Senkumar.
He proposed that the national honour be conferred on the scientist only after the completion of the probe against him.
"I would appreciate if he is conferred with even Bharat Ratna after the Supreme Court committee probe is completed and his innocence is proven. I will write about it in my book in detail," the former officer said.
Mr Senkumar was referring to the committee constituted by the top court, while declaring a compensation of Rs 50 lakh to Mr Narayanan in September last year, to look into the role of the Kerala Police in the arrest of the scientist. Mr Senkumar was named as an accused in a complaint filed by the 77-year-old scientist.
The espionage case, which hit the headlines in 1994, pertained to allegations of transfer of certain confidential documents on India's space programme to foreign countries by two scientists and four others, including two Maldivian women. He was in charge of the cryogenics division when he was charged with spying and arrested.
The case was first investigated by the state police and later handed over to the CBI. Mr Narayanan spent close to two months in jail before the CBI concluded the allegations against him were false.
The scientist then approached the Supreme Court against the Kerala High Court order that upheld the state's decision not to take action against former DGP Siby Mathews and two retired superintendents of police KK Joshua and S Vijayan, who were later held responsible by the CBI for his illegal arrest.