Antrix-Devas deal: CBI given a month to get sanction for trial

New Delhi, Aug 19 (IANS) A court here on Friday granted the Central Bureau of INvestigation one month to secure official sanction to try government servants charge-sheeted last week for causing a loss of Rs 578 crore to the exchequer in the Devas-Antrix deal.

The deal was inked between private multimedia company Devas and Antrix, which is the commercial arm of the Indian space agency, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

CBI Special Judge Vinod Kumar allowed the probe agency’s plea for one-month time to get official sanction to try the officials and fixed September 29 for consideration of the investigation report.

The CBI investigator earlier told the court he was filing documents now but he would require some more time in receiving the official sanction of authorities to proceed against public servants, which may take about one month.

On August 11, former ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair, former Additional Secretary in the Department of Space Veena S. Rao, and then ISRO Director A. Bhaskar Narayana Rao were charge-sheeted in the case.

The then Antrix Executive Director K.R. Sridhara Murthi, former Managing Director of US-based Forge Advisors and CEO of Devas Ramachandra Vishwanathan and the then Director of Devas M.G. Chandrasekhar and three former directors of Bangalore-based Devas Multi-media were also charge-sheeted.

The CBI accused them of hatching a criminal conspiracy with an intent to cause undue gains to themselves or others by abusing their official positions and causing loss to Antrix Corporation and ISRO.

During 2004-2011, the then Executive Director of Antrix Corporation in alleged criminal conspiracy with both advisors of the USA-based company and others gave rights for the delivery of video, multimedia and information services to mobile receivers in vehicles and mobile phones via S-Band through the GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A satellites and terrestrial systems in India to the company based at Bangalore in violation of the guidelines pertaining to leasing of INSAT capacity.

A case was registered against the accused on March 16, 2015.

The Antrix-Devas deal saw an early exit of Nair as ISRO Chairman since he was the head of Antrix governing council when the deal was finalised in January 2005.

–IANS

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