Former ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair, along with other senior officials, was chargesheeted by the CBI on Thursday in the Antrix-Devas deal case, the biggest space scandal in the country which had led to the unceremonious exit of Nair from the chairmanship of the space agency.
Nair was earlier questioned in May and June by the CBI which is probing the alleged Rs 578-crore “wrongful” gain to the private multi-media company Devas by Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO.
The probe agency had also registered a case and submitted an FIR (first information report) against K.R. Sridhara Murthi, who was then the executive director of Antrix, M.G. Chandrasekhar and R. Vishwanathan of Forge Advisors, Devas Multi-media Private Limited and unnamed officials of Antrix, ISRO and the department of space in a designated court in Bengaluru.
Nair was questioned about the details of the contract signed between Antrix and Devas on January 28, 2005 during his tenure as chairman of ISRO and secretary in the Department of Space.
A CBI spokesperson said on Thursday that the agency had filed a chargesheet against the then executive director of Antrix and others for committing alleged irregularities and causing loss to government exchequer .
"The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed a chargesheet in the Court of Special Judge, CBI cases, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi against then Executive Director of Antrix Corporation Ltd; then Managing Director of USA based company and then President and CEO of Bengaluru-based Private Multimedia Company; three then Directors of said Bengaluru-based Multimedia Private Company; Bengaluru-based Multimedia Private Company; then Secretary, Department of Space and Chairman, ISRO & Antrix; then Additional Secretary, Department of Space; then Director, SCPO, ISRO under various sections of the IPC and prevention of corruption act for allegedly being party to a criminal conspiracy with an intent to cause undue gain to themselves or others by abusing official positions (by public servants) and causing corresponding loss to Antrix Corporation Ltd and ISRO by lease of INSAT Transponders capacity on GSAT 6 and 6A satellites to Bengaluru-based Private Multimedia Company," said probe agency in a release.
“A case was registered on March 16, 2015 by the CBI against the then Executive Director of Antrix, two advisors of USA-based company, Bengaluru based private multi media company and other unknown officials of Antrix Corporation Limited /Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)/Department of Space (DoS). It was alleged that during the period from 2004 to 2011 the Executive Director Antrix Corporation Ltd in criminal conspiracy with both Advisors of USA based company and others gave rights for delivery of Video, Multimedia and Information Services to Mobile receivers in vehicles and mobile phones via S-Band through GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A Satellites and Terrestrial systems in India, to ineligible company based at Bengaluru in violation of the laid down guidelines pertaining to leasing of INSAT capacity. An alleged loss of Rs 578 crore (approx) was caused to Government Exchequer,” it said .
"Further investigation is continuing regarding issues of demand of S-Band frequencies by other users including Ministry of Defence for strategic purpose and DoT; DVB-SH Technology developed by ETSI and the affairs of USA based company, FDI received and funds transferred from the accounts of Bangalore based private company into the foreign accounts and offences under criminal breach of trust by public servants," said the CBI in its statement.