Antrix-Devas: Centre finds lapses on Nair`s part

Centre told CAT that there were "lapses" and "irregularities" on the part of the former ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair in the Antrix-Devas deal.

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

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

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

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.


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