‘He was not appointed to any public service or post, so Administrative Tribunals Act is not applicable to him'
The high-power committee and the high-level team the Union government appointed to look into the Antrix-Devas deal have found that there have been serious administrative and procedural lapses on the part of G. Madhavan Nair, former Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This was disclosed in a statement the Central government filed before the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT).
Radha Jaisimha, Under-Secretary in the Department of Space, refuted Mr. Nair's allegation that the two committees had violated the principle of natural justice. They had given their opinions after hearing Mr. Nair, said the statement, which was filed in response to an application by Mr. Nair challenging the Centre's decision to bar him from holding any government job. He had also questioned the Centre's order, terminating his appointment as the Vikram Sarabhai Distinguished Professor.
The statement said Mr. Nair was not appointed to any public service or post, nor was he a Central government employee, so the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985, was not applicable to him. Therefore, he could not seek adjudication in the tribunal of any issue whatsoever relating to his engagement as the Vikram Sarabhai Professor. Mr. Nair retired, on superannuation, from government service on October 2009 and was posted professor under the Visiting Professor Scheme of the Department of Science. He could not claim that he should get an opportunity, as available to a government servant, of being heard before the termination of any assignment given to him after retirement.
Mr. Nair had suppressed the fact of his representation to the Prime Minister which was under consideration, the statement said, and he had done it consciously with the intention of misleading the tribunal.
The Centre decided to look into the irregularities after certain terms of the agreement were found not to be transparent. It was the Antrix/ISRO's investment of about Rs. 800 crore in two satellites, along with other unusual concessions, which had raised the suspicion. Besides, the ISRO had given large funds for an unproven technology, involving players who had very little financial stake. The commitment to build a second satellite, and the expenditure on it, were without any financial authorisation from the Cabinet, the statement said.
Lack of transparency
The entry of foreign telecom companies with huge premiums revealed that they had used the agreement as an opportunity for entering the Indian market. There was lack of transparency in the signing of the agreement with Devas: it was not mentioned in the note submitted to the Space Commission, the statement said.