The former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), G. Madhavan Nair, and three other space scientists, have been barred by the Department of Space from holding any government posts, present or future. “The former officers … shall be excluded from re-employment, committee roles or any other important role under the government.”

The January 13 order was a fallout of the controversial Antrix-Devas deal.

Under the contract, signed in 2005 during Dr. Nair's tenure as ISRO Chairman, Antrix Corporation had allowed the Bangalore-based private company Devas Multimedia unbridled use of 70 MHz of the scarce S-band spectrum over a 20-year period for its digital multimedia services. The ISRO was to build two satellites GSat 6 and 6A for Devas.

In February 2011, the Centre scrapped the deal, days after The Hindu and the Business Line published an investigation into the inherent irregularities in the agreement.

The contract was signed without a competitive bidding process, raising questions about the preferential spectrum allocation, which according to the Comptroller and Auditor-General's estimates could have cost the exchequer a loss of over Rs.2 lakh crore.

In May last, the Prime Minister formed a five-member high-level team under the chairmanship of the former Central Vigilance Commissioner, Pratyush Sinha, to examine aspects of the agreement between Antrix and Devas. Two other high-level probes into the agreement were initiated early last year by the Prime Minister's Office.

“We still do not have a copy of the order. I received information of the order through the media,” Dr. Nair told The Hindu.

He also suggested that “the government's decision reflects the clear personal agenda of the present ISRO Chairman, K Radhakrishnan.” “What else would you judge from what has happened?”

Mr. Radhakrishnan refused to comment.

Dr. Nair will lose visiting professorship at ISRO. He also holds posts as Chairman of the Board of Governors in IIT-Patna, and Chairman of the Governing council of CSIR's NAL.

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