Former Indian space agency chief G. Madhavan Nair Sunday slammed
the twin probe reports on the multi-billion dollar Antrix-Devas
spectrum deal, saying they were "one-sided and without all facts".
"Though I am yet to go through both the reports in detail, I can
categorically say they are one-sided and not based on all facts.
Let me first get the reports and study them. Then only I will be
able to rebut and defend my position," Nair told IANS here.
Expressing surprise at the odd timing (late Saturday) of releasing
the probe reports on the official websites of the Indian Space
Research Organisation (ISRO) and the space department, Nair said a
quick look at the salient points and conclusions arrived at
clearly shows that the inquiry was not based on factual
information and many things have been considered out of context.
"For instance, issues related to launch of satellites, leasing of
transponders and spectrum pricing mechanism have not been dealt as
per the rules and regulations," Nair said.
The probe reports have held Nair and three other space scientists
responsible for serious irregularities and procedural lapses in
signing the $300-million contract in 2005 to allot 70MHz of the
scarce S-band spectrum (radio waves) to the Bangalore-based Devas
Multimedia Services Ltd for digital services using ISRO's
The other three scientists are former scientific secretary A.
Bhaskarnarayana, ISRO's former satellite centre director K.N.
Shankara and former Antrix Corporation executive director K.R.
The Rs.1,000-crore (Rs.10-billion) Antrix is the commercial arm of
the space agency, headquartered in this tech hub with centres
across the country.
Though the first report of the two-member probe committee headed
by former cabinet secretary B.K. Chaturvedi and Space Commission
member Roddam Narasimha was uploaded in full, the report of the
five-member probe panel set up to study the former's report, has
been partially released, with only the conclusions.
The prime minister, who is also incharge of the space department,
had set up the Chatruvedi committee in February 2011 and the
five-member panel in May 2011 under the chairmanship of Pratyush
Sinha, former chairman of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC),
to study the former's recommendations to fix responsibility for
the alleged violation of norms.
On the basis of the Sinha panel's recommendations, the government
Jan 13 debarred the four scientists from holding any government
post or being on an any official committees.
On the recommendation of the Sinha committee, Nair said the panel
had made the recommendations with little knowledge of space
"A committee headed by a former IPS (Indian Police Service)
officer does not understand space business. Its conclusions are
distorted. Its report too should have been released in full to
ascertain the basis of its recommendations for action against us,"
Clarifying that the deal was not to solely benefit Devas, Nair
said the contract was to ensure a decent return to the government
even at the risk of using new technology at a time when India was
still under the sanctions regime.
"When the deal was signed (in 2005), we were still under the
embargo of the US and other western nations for the Pokhran-II
nuclear test in May 1999. Only Devas came forward to provide a
host of digital multimedia services using space-based radio waves.
The government was also in favour of using space assets for the
benefit of the country," Nair observed.