As the debate over the Antrix-Devas deal rages on, the Department of Space has written to the Prime Minister’s Office seeking the release of the reports of two high-level committees set up in 2011 to look into the alleged irregularities in the agreement.
A press statement from ISRO on Tuesday said that its Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space K. Radhakrishnan is “in the process of getting clearances” for the release of the reports of two committees: a High-Powered Review Committee set up by the Centre on February 10, 2011; and a High-Level Team set up by the Centre on May 31, 2011 to examine various aspects of the Antrix-Devas agreement of January 2005.
It was on the basis of these reports that the DoS on January 13 ordered the barring of ISRO’s former chairman Madhavan Nair and three other senior scientists from holding government posts.
If made public, the reports of these committees – the first comprising B.K. Chaturvedi and Roddam Narasimha, and the second chaired by former Central Vigilance Commissioner Pratyush Sinha - will undoubtedly bring much-needed clarity to the role of the four space scientists in the arguably “one-sided deal” signed in 2005 between ISRO’s commercial wing Antrix and the private company Devas.
This is the first public announcement from Mr. Radhakrishnan since the order, which Mr. Nair described as a “witch hunt”. Mr. Nair has since held Mr. Radhakrishnan responsible for the punitive action, alleging that the present chief was motivated by a “personal agenda” against him.
Mr. Nair, who has applied through the Right to Information Act for the same reports, told The Hindu said he was hopeful that at least the Chaturvedi Committee report would be favourable to him. “Let it come, we will see,” he said.
Meanwhile, support from the scientific community appeared only to grow for Mr. Nair on Tuesday. Aerospace scientist Prof. Narasimha and member of the first (Chaturvedi) Committee, told reporters on Tuesday that the order was a “serious move” and that it “should not have been done”.
He however believed it was a “good move” to release the reports in the public domain. The scientists should have been given a chance to explain, he told reporters on the sidelines of the State Awards for Scientists and Engineers. Prof. Narasimha told The Hindu that while his committee was mandated to “find the truth” about the deal, the Pratyush Committee looked into punitive action.