CBI today questioned former ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair in connection with the case registered by the agency for probing alleged Rs 578-crore “wrongful” gain to a private multi-media company Devas by Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO.
Nair was summoned to the CBI headquarters here this morning and asked about the details of the contract signed between Antrix Corporation and Devas Multimedia Private Limited on January 28, 2005 during his tenure as chairman of ISRO and Secretary, Department of Space.
The Antrix-Devas deal had seen early exit of Nair as Chairman of ISRO as he was the Chairman of the Governing Council of Antrix when the deal was finalised.
CBI had registered a case last year and carried out searches at the premises of Devas Limited as well as the then Executive Director of Antrix K R Sridhara Murthi in Bengaluru.
An FIR was lodged against Murthi, M G Chandrasekhar and R Vishwanathan of Forge Advisors, Devas Multi-media Private Limited and unnamed officials of Antrix, ISRO and Department of Space in a designated court in Bengaluru.
The agency has slapped 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) of Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of Prevention of Corruption Act against them.
It is alleged that the accused people had entered into a criminal conspiracy and the government officials abused their position by favouring Devas by giving them rights for delivery of videos, multimedia and information services to mobile phones using S-Band through GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A satellites and terrestrial systems in India.
The accused officials “thus caused wrongful gain of Rs 578 crore” to the private firm and its owners, CBI alleged.
CBI said that a deal between Antrix and Devas was fixed in principle in January 2005 for lease of S-Band transponders. However, the then Executive Director of Antrix signed it on behalf of Antrix six months later only after ensuring that Chandrashekhar and Vishwanathan were majority stakeholders in Devas multi-media. They continued in this position till 2008-09.
The change in the board, where a US company represented by Chandrashekar and Vishwanathan had majority stakes, was never verified by Antrix as the agreement had been in violation of Shankara Committee which had recommended execution of any such agreement with an Indian company only, it was contended.