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Reputation Of An Individual Is An Insegregable Facet Of His Right To Life With Dignity: SC In Nambi Narayanan’s Case [Read Judgment]

There can be no scintilla of doubt that the appellant, a successful scientist having national reputation, has been compelled to undergo immense humiliation.

The former scientist of the Indian Space Research Organisation S. Nambi Narayanan finally gets justice. His long wait in court corridors has ended with a happy note.

The Supreme Court, while ordering 50 Lakh compensation to former ISRO Scientist Nambi Narayanan, observed that reputation of an individual is an insegregable facet of his right to life with dignity, and fundamental right of the scientist under Article 21 has been gravely affected.

 The Court has also constituted a committee headed by former Supreme Court Judge Justice DK Jain to inquire in to the role of police officers in the conspiracy against him. The background of this case may be read in this Live Law report.

The criminal law was set in motion without any basis

The Bench headed by the CJI Dipak Misra particularly took note of the fact that the former scientist was arrested and he has suffered for almost fifty days in police custody. The bench also noted that the arrest has been seriously criticized in the closure report of the CBI.

The bench observed: The entire prosecution initiated by the State police was malicious and it has caused tremendous harassment and immeasurable anguish to the appellant. It is not a case where the accused is kept under custody and, eventually, after trial, he is found not guilty. The State police was dealing with an extremely sensitive case and after arresting the appellant and some others, the State, on its own, transferred the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation. After comprehensive enquiry, the closure report was filed. An argument has been advanced by the learned counsel for the State of Kerala as well as by the other respondents that the fault should be found with the CBI but not with the State police, for it had transferred the case to the CBI. The said submission is to be noted only to be rejected. The criminal law was set in motion without any basis. It was initiated, if one is allowed to say, on some kind of fancy or notion. 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. In such a situation, it springs to life with immediacy. It is because life commands self-respect and dignity.”

There may not be infliction of physical pain but definitely there is mental torment

The bench also dealt with a submission made on behalf of the state that there has been no complaint with regard to custodial torture. The bench remarked: “When such an argument is advanced, the concept of torture is viewed from a narrow perspective. What really matters is what has been stated in D.K. Basu v. State of W.B… It is quite vivid that emphasis has been laid on mental agony when a person is confined within the four walls of a police station or lock up. There may not be infliction of physical pain but definitely there is mental torment.”

Compelled to undergo immense humiliation

The bench said that it cannot lose sight of the wrongful imprisonment, malicious prosecution, the humiliation and the defamation faced by Nambi Narayanan. It said that suitable compensation has to be awarded to compensate the suffering, anxiety and the treatment by which the quintessence of life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution withers away. It said: “There can be no scintilla of doubt that the appellant, 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 to suffer the ignominy. The dignity of a person gets shocked when psycho-pathological treatment is meted out to him. A human being cries for justice when he feels that the insensible act has crucified his self-respect. That warrants grant of compensation under the public law remedy. We are absolutely conscious that a civil suit has been filed for grant of compensation. That will not debar the constitutional court to grant compensation taking recourse to public law.”

Read the Judgment Here

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  • STChandrasekhar babu says:

    Mental torture is invisible torture much more than physical torture. It is more so for a person with good stature either in society or in his fraternal circle. The judgement is laudable as reinforces the individual dignity

  • kummathi venkatesulu says:

    dear live law management i am very happy to see number of the important judgments within short span of time. i hope the same will be continued by adding important judgments of high courts also. moreover i do not know the rates for subscription of live-law and its details. i will be happy if you let me know.

  • Rajib Ranjan Das says:

    Sermons are good when one practices what he preaches, where is the dignity, reputation of individuals upheld when at the mere complaint of a woman, men are arrested, tortured, humiliated, denied bail, made to go through endless hearings, bleed their finances dry while the complainant woman doesn’t have to do anything further, attend hearings, give proof. Where was the dignity upheld when Md. Sharif was dragged out from Judiciary,’s custody, humiliated, tortured, lynched to death. Where is the action against the mobsters , against the false complainant woman. When is she not punished for orchestrating murder. The Judiciary has long ceased to be an instrument of justice and serves as a weapon of vendetta by women against men. Hence such statements are just big noises.