The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Friday strongly objected to the formation, by the Central government, of a two-man committee to “review” the Antrix-Devas deal, and demanded an “independent time-bound high-level inquiry by a retired Supreme Court Judge into the S-band spectrum deal.

Citing the expose by The Hindu and Business Line of the deal that involves presumptive loss of revenue to the government to the tune of Rs.2 lakh crore, the CPI(M) Polit Bureau termed the “review” exercise “highly questionable.” It asked the government to explain the “necessity of a review when already the contract has been found unjustified” by the Space Commission and the Law Ministry.

The CPI(M) pointed out that “a number of questions remain unanswered in this affair which falls under the purview of Department of Space, which is directly under the Prime Minister.” It asked why the agreement was not cancelled when the contract was “found to be inappropriate and the Space Commission wanted it annulled in July 2010.” It questioned the government's inaction even after the Additional Solicitor General had recommended that the termination of the agreement be a government decision.

“The UPA government has resorted to the now familiar pattern when confronted with large-scale scams and corruption. It has sought to underplay the extent of wrongdoing, claim that the agreement has been implemented and obfuscated the issues involved,” the statement said.

On the formation of the review committee, the CPI(M) said: “The persons appointed — a former Cabinet Secretary and a member of the Space Commission — were both involved in the processing of the deal. The intention seems to be to keep the deal as an in-house matter.”

The CPI(M) raised concerns over media reports of “obstructions” faced by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in examining the contract. “The CAG should be able to examine fully all the relevant papers regarding the agreement… The people of the country will not be satisfied till all the facts about this dubious deal are uncovered and the guilty brought to book,” it added.

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