The ISRO row showed no signs of abating as former chief of the organisation G. Madhavan Nair on Tuesday hit back at his successor K. Radhakrishnan dubbing as “another lie” the latter’s claim that an inquiry was conducted into charges and lapses relating to the Antrix-Devas deal.
Mr. Radhakrishnan, Secretary in the Department of Space (DoS), had said on Monday that a probe was held, noting the “detailed” letter of the Pratyush Sinha-chaired High Level Team (to Mr. Nair and seven other officials) listing out the “charges, lapses and irregularities”.
“It’s another lie”, Mr. Nair told PTI, underlining “that’s a letter only”, in the continuing intense war of words triggered by the action against him and three other scientists barring them from occupying any government position and the release of the two key reports which led to the action.
Mr. Nair said the letter narrates the entire history of Devas as seen by the DoS and at the end of it asks them to explain their involvement on the issues from the signing of the contract till it annulment, and provide clarifications.
“Normally in any inquiry they have to formulate a charge sheet or omissions and commissions, and they have to ask for explanations. That’s not done,” he said, adding any inquiry panel finding people culpable has to send notice and takes steps after considering the reply.
“All these steps are violated,” Mr. Nair said. “…The entire process adopted right from annulment of Devas agreement until now, they are based on half-truths and this amounts to misleading the government.
“So you tell a lie and hundreds of lies will have to be told to cover it up,” he said, indirectly referring to Mr. Radhakrishnan whom he has repeatedly accused of being behind the government action.
On indications from the government that the order to ban the four scientists would not be revoked, Mr. Nair said: “Let them say so. I am not asking for any favour from anybody”.
On Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, V. Narayanasamy’s reported remarks that the Antrix-Devas deal was annulled for reasons of national security and not purported loss of revenue in sale of spectrum, Mr. Nair said: “Where is (then) the need for any witch-hunting (against the four). He (Mr. Narayanasamy) himself is contradicting.”
Asked why he thought the deal was scrapped, Mr. Nair said he can only do some guess-work. On one side, there was a CAG report which talked about huge notional loss and on the other hand, there was issue of sale of Devas shares in 2010.
“Both these events coincided. Looking at that event, it’s quite possible that it’s a panic reaction from the DoS which has caused all this. That’s my guess... putting two and two together,” he said.
He said there are “contradictions” with respect to the Chaturvedi-Narasimha Committee report, and the Sinha panel conclusions, which he termed as “atrocious”. He said nobody knows how the Sinha panel arrived at those conclusions.
“In the absence of that, an independent and impartial public inquiry by a duly constituted committee with technical experts is absolutely essential. That’s the only way to bring out the truth,” he said.
Noting that the communication barring them from government jobs and the Sinha panel findings have not been provided to them by the DoS, Mr. Nair regretted that “every thing we have to hear from the media”.
“Now, it has become a public debate over the media on the issues rather than the individuals trying to defend themselves,” he said.
“This issue is floating in the air. It has become a big tamasha over the air. That’s not the way to look at serious issue like this. And I am sure, somebody in the government is responsible for this and they will understand how to handle such matters. Whatever has come in the public domain... it’s a series of half-truths.
“I have decided unless I receive something formally from the government, I will not be responding,” Nair added.