New Delhi: The Indian Space Research
Organisation has refused to make public the minutes of
meetings of the Space Commission where the controversial
Antrix-Devas deal was discussed.
Replying to an RTI application, ISRO said the minutes of
the Space Commission meetings where the deal between its
commercial arm Antrix Corporation and Devas Multimedia over
the leasing of scarce S-band spectrum was discussed cannot be
provided as it relates to national security.
Last July, the Commission had recommended annulment of
the contract with Devas under which the private firm, floated
by ex-ISRO officials, was to get on lease 90 per cent of the
S-band transponders on two satellites -- GSAT 6 and GSAT 6A
for its novel Digital Broadcast Audio Service.
After uproar over the issue, the Cabinet Committee of
Security headed by the Prime Minister decided to annul the
deal on February 17.
The RTI applicant had sought to know from the Department
of Space the minutes of all Space Commission meetings since
2005 where issue of Devas-Antrix deal, which has now been
annulled, had figured.
Section 10 of the RTI Act has severability clause which
allows a public authority to remove the information which is
exempted from disclosure under the transparency law but the
Central Public Information Officer of the ISRO did not apply
the clause and summarily rejected the application saying,
"Information is related to security and scientific interests
of the State."
Antrix had signed the contract in January 2005 and had
got sanction of the Space Commission and the Union Cabinet for
the two satellites without informing them that bulk capacity
would be leased to Devas Multimedia.
In December 2009, the ISRO ordered a review of the deal,
and subsequently, the Space Commission recommended its
annulment on July 2, 2010.