The deal included 70 MHz of S-band spectrum worth Rs 1,000 crore and the Supreme Court said this “fraud of a huge magnitude cannot be brushed under the carpet"
New Delhi: Another murky deal of the UPA regime during the prime ministership of Dr Manmohan Singh now stands exposed.
The centre has lashed out at the Congress party for its complicity in the Antrix-Devas deal and maintained that a blatant selling of the country’s resources took place during the UPA regime.
“We (the NDA government) are fighting to save taxpayers’ money which otherwise would have gone towards the scandalous Antrix-Devas deal,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told a press conference on Tuesday.
Her observations came a day after the Supreme Court upheld the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) order of winding up Devas (Digitally Enhanced Video and Audio Services) Multimedia Private Ltd, which in association with Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), aimed to deliver video, multimedia and information services via satellite to mobile receivers in vehicles and mobile phones across India.
The deal included 70 MHz of S-band spectrum worth Rs 1,000 crore. The apex court stated that it is a case of “fraud of a huge magnitude which cannot be brushed under the carpet".
A media expose claimed that the deal could have caused loss of over Rs 2 lakh crore to the national exchequer. The Manmohan Singh-led government cancelled the deal by giving “security reasons”.
In 2016, former ISRO chief G Madhavan Nair and other senior officials were chargesheeted by the CBI as they were accused of facilitating “wrongful” gain of Rs 578 crore to Devas. The NCLAT had ordered the winding up of Devas on May 25, 2021, on a petition by Antrix. This was again affirmed by NCLAT in September last year.
The Union Finance Minister said that this deal was done against the national security of India and now it is for the Congress party to explain how this kind of fraud was perpetrated on the people. She alleged that when the deal was cancelled in 2011 and arbitration began, Antrix was asked to appoint an arbitrator to defend the government but the UPA regime never did that.
"This is what the greed of the UPA has done. The government is fighting in every court to make sure the fraud doesn't get away," Ms Sitharaman underlined. The fraud in the Antrix-Devas deal was obvious and the Supreme Court's order was proof of the Congress-led
government's "misuse of power".
In fact, around 2011 shortly after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had submitted its report on the infamous 2G scam to Parliament, the Antrix-Devas deal was cancelled. Reports back in 2010 and 2011 questioned the deal and allegations were made that the deal included quid-pro-quo.