Antrix-Devas: Centre finds lapses on Nair`s part
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Last Updated: Saturday, April 07, 2012, 21:10
Kochi: Seeking dismissal of G Madhavan Nair's plea, the Centre on Saturday told the Central Administrative Tribunal here that there were "lapses" and "irregularities" on the part of the former ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair in the Antrix-Devas deal and government had to take action on the basis of findings of two high-level committees.

Nair had moved the CAT here last month challenging the government's decision to bar him and three other scientists from holding government posts for their alleged role in the controversial Antrix-Devas deal and seeking its quashing.

Radha Jaisimha, Under Secretary, Department of Space (DOS), submitted before the CAT that Nair had "conducted himself irresponsibly" making "false and baseless" allegations against the government, DOS, and Secretary, DOS, ever since the orders were issued.

Terming this as "highly irresponsible", Jaisimha said the conduct of Nair amounts to "breach of trust" reinforced on him by the government."It is his own folly" that has culminated in the issuance of the orders.

Pointing out that the grievances of Nair were "imaginary, fictitious and misplaced", the government said his petition should be dismissed as he was no longer a government servant.

Aggrieved by the January 13 order terminating his appointment as Dr Vikram Sarabhai Distinguished Professor, Nair had sought a direction to the government for his reinstatement till the expiry of his four-year term. In the alternative, he sought adequate compensation.

"The applicant cannot seek adjudication of any issue whatsoever relating to his engagement as a Vikram Sarabhai Professor under the Administrative Tribunals Act," it was submitted.

The two committees, constituted to examine various aspects of the agreement, gave opportunities to Nair "to the extent necessary and essential and as such the principle of natural justice has been provided to the applicant", the government said.

"There was no need for the government for giving any notice to the applicant when the committees were constituted. The principle of natural justice was followed in the case and he was given audience by the High-powered Committee and the Chairman of the High Level Team also heard him in person. The HLT also sought explantation from him," Jaisimha said.

When certain irregularities were noticed in the agreement, government decided to look into them, especially because of certain terms in the agreement including the fact that Antrix-ISRO had committed investment of about Rs 800 crore on two satellites with other "unusual concessions."

"ISRO committed large funds for unproven technology and with players who had very little financial stake." The commitment for building a second satellite and the expenditure on it was without any financial authorisation from the Cabinet, it was submitted.

The entry of foreign telecom companies with huge premiums indicated that they had used the agreement as an "opportunity for entering the Indian telecom market." To this extent, the safeguards in the agreement were "inadequate" to prevent it.

There was lack of transparency in signing of the agreement. Although the agreement with Devas was already signed, there was no mention about it in the note submitted to the Space Commission subsequently, it was submitted.

The BK Chaturvedi committee had found that the penalty provision and other commercial and financial terms were 'unreasonable' and the commitment of building a second satellite and the related expenditure were found to be without any authorisation from the Finance Ministry or the Cabinet.

The High level team headed by Pratyush Sinha found there have been "serious administrative and procedural lapses" and "collusive behaviour" on the part of certain individuals.

It had asked the government to probe through appropriate investigating agency to get a clear picture of the changing pattern of ownership of Devas, economic interest of various individuals of Devas, the extent to which the increase in share value has been encashed by the individuals and shareholding pattern of the company and of Mauritius-based entities.

Nair has, in his petition, sought quashing of the order issued by the Director of Department of Space, Bangalore, and the incriminating observations contained whereby he was debarred from holding various posts, including his termination as Dr Vikram Sarabhai Distinguished Professor in DOS/ISRO.


First Published: Saturday, April 07, 2012, 21:10

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