The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a chargesheet against acclaimed scientist and former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) G. Madhavan Nair, along with several others involved in the controversial Antrix-Devas deal. Nair has been accused of allegedly facilitating a wrongful gain of Rs.578 crore to a Bangalore-based company, Devas Multimedia Private Limited, leading to huge losses to the exchequer.
The development comes after the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) tribunal at The Hague ruled against India, making it liable to pay compensation to foreign investors in Devas Multimedia.
In 2005, when Nair was the head of ISRO, as well as its marketing arm Antrix Corporation, the latter signed a contract with Devas Multimedia for lease of almost the entire transponder space on two satellites that ISRO planned to launch. Devas was also supposed to get 70 MHz of the 150 MHz spectrum in S-band that ISRO possessed.
According to the CBI, Nair, who is a Padma Vibhushan, went ahead with the deal in spite of conflict of interest and provided wrong information to the then Manmohan Singh government. It was cancelled in 2011 by Nair's successor, K. Radhakrishnan.
In an interview to The Times of India in March 2015, Nair had said the Antrix-Devas deal came under the radar because "there was a panicky reaction from the PMO (which was headed by Manmohan Singh) since 2G spectrum scam involving A Raja dented the government's image at that time".
Speaking to The Indian Express, Nair expressed his puzzlement at the new development. "Three inquiries have found nothing wrong in signing of the deal. Each one of them has said that there was no loss to the exchequer. Competent technical people were present in these team. I don't understand on what basis has the CBI been making these claims," he said.
"Incidentally, it is not probing why the deal was cancelled. It is the cancellation of the deal that is problematic and not the signing. International courts (of arbitration) have now ruled that the cancellation of the deal was illegal," Nair added.
Also see on HuffPost India: