: The former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), G. Madhavan Nair, on Monday filed an application before the Ernakulam Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) challenging the order of the Director, Department of Space, that he be divested of any current assignment or consultancy with the government and organisation and also not be re-employed, or given any important role in any committee or in any government or government bodies.
Mr. Nair also challenged the order issued by the Union government terminating his appointment as Vikram Sarabhai Distinguished Professor under the Department of Space.
In his application, Mr. Nair said the agreement between Antrix and Devas was signed in January 28, 2005. It had provided for safeguarding the interest of the ISRO. In fact, the Cabinet had been apprised about the agreements and the programmes. The proposal and programme were approved by the Cabinet in December 2005. But the proposed satellite had not been launched as yet. The legal position was that the contract was “frustrated” and overt action by the government to annul or cancel the contract was superfluous.
He said the high-power committee headed by B.K. Chaturvedi, Planning Commission member, concluded that the concern regarding spectrum having been sold cheap under the agreement had no basis. It was of the view that the space spectrum was not comparable to terrestrial spectrum and Devas was required to obtain licence from either the Department of Telecommunication or Information and Broadcasting for providing service to customers and would be obliged to pay charges to be determined by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Besides, the committee noted that the Space Commission had been given full power in carrying out its affairs.
However, a high-level team headed by the former Central Vigilance Commissioner, Pratyush Sinha, was constituted to go into the issue afresh. In fact, it was not known under whose authority the two committees had been constituted. In fact, the constitution of the committee was irregular. It had no backing of any statutory provision and it was beyond the administrative power of the government.
Mr. Nair alleged that he had not been given any opportunity to be heard by the high-level committee though he had asked for such an opportunity. All of a sudden, it had been reported in the media that he and three other senior officers who worked in the Space Department should be excluded from re-employment, committee role or any other important role under the government. The high-level committee, he said, had violated the principles of natural justice.
Mr. Nair said he had never deviated from any procedure which the Department of Space, the ISRO and Antrix had been following for decades. He pointed out that the orders had damaged his reputation as an individual and as a scientist. The termination of his appointment as a professor had offended the rules of fair play. He had reasons to believe that the orders were issued with malice. The act of the applicant and other officers in concluding the agreement with Devas was not in any way tainted. There was no justification for the finding of the high-level committee and the action proposed against him. It was to tarnish the applicant that the high-level panel was formed to probe the very same matter into which another committee had probed. The committee had not even cared to consider the documents submitted by him. The Central Civil Service Pension Rules, 1972 did not authorise the Space Commission to issue an order against him.