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ISRO refuses to part with minutes of Space Commission meetings

File photo of Antariksh Bhavan, which houses the Antrix Corporation in Bangalore. The ISRO has said that details of Space Commission meetings on the Antrix-Devas deal cannot be made public.

File photo of Antariksh Bhavan, which houses the Antrix Corporation in Bangalore. The ISRO has said that details of Space Commission meetings on the Antrix-Devas deal cannot be made public.  

The Indian Space Research Organisation has refused to make public the minutes of meetings of the Space Commission where the controversial Antrix-Devas deal was discussed.

Replying to an RTI application, ISRO said the minutes of the Space Commission meetings where the deal between its commercial arm Antrix Corporation and Devas Multimedia over the leasing of scarce S-band spectrum was discussed cannot be provided as they relate to national security.

Last July, the Commission had recommended annulment of the contract with Devas under which the private firm, floated by ex-ISRO officials, was to get on lease 90 per cent of the S-band transponders on two satellites — GSAT 6 and GSAT 6A for its novel Digital Broadcast Audio Service.

After uproar over the issue, the Cabinet Committee of Security headed by the Prime Minister decided to annul the deal on February 17.

The RTI applicant had sought to know from the Department of Space the minutes of all Space Commission meetings since 2005 where issue of the Devas-Antrix deal, which has now been annulled, had figured.

Section 10 of the RTI Act has severability clause which allows a public authority to remove the information, which is exempted from disclosure under the transparency law but the Central Public Information Officer of the ISRO did not apply the clause and summarily rejected the application saying, “Information is related to security and scientific interests of the State.”

Antrix had signed the contract in January 2005 and had got sanction of the Space Commission and the Union Cabinet for the two satellites without informing them that bulk capacity would be leased to Devas Multimedia.

In December 2009, the ISRO ordered a review of the deal, and subsequently, the Space Commission recommended its annulment on July 2, 2010.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 4:23:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ISRO-refuses-to-part-with-minutes-of-Space-Commission-meetings/article13873996.ece

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