ISRO has refused to share details of the progress of former space agency chief G Madhavan Nair’s complaint on the action taken against him in the controversial Antrix-Devas deal, saying a probe was still on in the matter.
“As further investigations on the subject matter are in progress, providing the information at this stage would impede the ongoing investigation. Hence, dissemination of information is exempted from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (h) of the RTI Act,” ISRO said in reply to an RTI query filed by PTI.
ISRO was asked to provide copies of correspondence received from its former and present scientists or officials in connection with the deal and action taken on them.
Section 8(1)(h) of the Right to Information Act bars disclosure of “information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders”, it said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on May 31, last year constituted a five-member high-level team (HLT) under the chairmanship of former Central Vigilance Commissioner Pratyush Sinha, to examine various aspects of the controversial agreement between Antrix Pvt Ltd and Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd.
The HLT was asked to examine the report of the two-member High Powered Review Committee (HPRC) constituted by the Prime Minister’s Office on February 10, 2011.
It was also asked to examine the entire gamut of the decision making process followed in signing the agreement with Devas Multimedia and suggest future course of action.
Based on the HLT report, submitted to the PMO on September 2 last year, the government had barred Nair and three eminent space scientists from any re-employment for their alleged role in the deal.
Nair had hit back at the government for taking action “in violation of principles of natural justice and tarnishing the image of reputed people like him.”
The other three officials against whom action has been taken are A Bhaskaranarayana, former scientific secretary at ISRO, K R Sridharamurthi, former managing director of Antrix and K N Shankara, former director of the ISRO Satellite Centre.
Antrix had signed a deal with Devas in January 2005 to provide it crucial S-Band space segment for running digital multimedia service by leasing 90 per cent transponders on two satellites – GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A.
The HLT had found serious lapses on judgement on part of a number of officials and in some cases the actions verged on the point of serious violations of norms and breach of public trust.
It also indicted some officials for being file pushers or passive onlookers.