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ISRO ex-chief Madhavan Nair named in Antrix charge sheet (Relevant for GS Mains Paper II, Topic: Antrix: Devas deal)

CBI charge sheet
The Central Bureau of Investigation filed a charge sheet against former ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair and other senior officials in the Antrix-Devas deal case for allegedly facilitating a wrongful gain of Rs.578 crore to Devas Multimedia Private Limited.

The charge sheet has been filed in a Delhi court days after the commercial arm of ISRO, Antrix Corporation lost its case in the international tribunal of arbitration in The Hague over cancellation of the contract.

The agency said the Managing Director of Forge Advisors (U.S.A.) and CEO of Devas, Ramachandra Vishwanathan, former ISRO scientist M.G. Chandrasekhar, and two directors of Devas Multimedia M. Umesh and D. Venugopal have also been named. The CBI has pressed conspiracy, cheating and corruption charges against the accused.

Details of allegation
It is alleged that the government officials abused their position to favour Devas by giving them rights for delivery of videos, multimedia content and information services to mobile phones using S-Band through GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A satellites and terrestrial systems in India. They, thus, caused a wrongful gain of Rs.578 crore to the private firm and its owners.
The CBI has alleged that while the deal for lease of S-Band transponders was decided in principle between Antrix and Devas in January 2005, the then Antrix Executive Director signed it six months later after Mr. Chandrasekhar and Mr. Vishwanathan became the majority stakeholders in Devas. They continued to hold the positions till 2009.

The CBI probe revealed that when a proposal for budgetary support of Rs.269 crore for approving design, manufacture and launch of GSAT-6/INSAT-4E (PS1) was placed at the 104th meeting of the Space Commission on May 26, 2005, it was allegedly not informed that an agreement for leasing out the S-Band had already been struck with Devas.

It alleges that the Space Commission’s approval was obtained by keeping it in the dark.

According to the CBI, the change in the company’s board, where a U.S. company represented by Mr. Chandrasekhar and Mr. Vishwanathan had majority stakes, was never verified by Antrix. The agreement was allegedly in violation of Shankara Committee recommendations, according to which any such agreement should be entered into with an Indian company alone.

The agency also alleges that Bengaluru-based Devas siphoned off and transferred a large part of the “wrongful gain” to a U.S.-based subsidiary.

About Antrix Corporation
Antrix Corporation Limited is the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Its objective is to promote the ISRO's products, services and technologies. It was incorporated as a private limited companyowned by the Indian government on 28 September 1992. The company is a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU), wholly owned by theGovernment of India. 
 



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