Former ISRO chief refused info under RTI query on his blacklisting

Former ISRO chief G Madhavan Nair on Wednesday said the Department of Space (DoS) has refused to reveal the reasons, sought by him under an RTI query, for blacklisting him and three other space scientists over the controversial Antrix-Devas deal.

Citing some sections, the DoS had refused to provide the answers to his questions filed under the RTI Act a month ago, Nair said adding that he would move the appellate authority.

“Virtually I can say I got a blank paper. Nothing contents in that,” he told PTI here on the reply he got from the DoS.

“It’s a shame to the RTI Act. Open issue like this…people keep on telling that under Section 80 or something like that, we (DoS) cannot reveal the data,” an anguished Nair said.

He filed the RTI application after being blacklisted from any government assignment as action was taken against him and three other scientists based on the reports of two government-appointed committees that probed the deal.

“I wanted to know what are the specific recommendations based on which action was taken and file notings on that. All those things are blank,” Nair said. “Just sending the terms of reference of the two committees, what’s the use?”

In the blacklisting order, he noted no reasons had been cited for such action, and he wanted to know the factors taken into account and the reasons.

Flaying ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan, also Space Commission chief and DoS Secretary, Nair said “How Department of Space is taking law into their hands is very visible in this”.

“The DoS has been twisting and turning every bit of norms to suit the personal whims and fancies of some people there”, he claimed and severely criticised his successor Radhakrishnan who he had earlier accused of “witch-hunting” and “vendetta”.

Nair said “worst of the things” are happening in the DoS which is supposed to be known for transparency all these years. “There is a provision for appeal, and I will do that”.

“It’s really disgusting the way the DoS is working. The two-member committee of B K Chaturvedi and Roddam Narasimha reviewed the technical, commercial, procedural and financial aspects of the Antrix-Devas agreement and their report said concerns of cheap selling of spectrum to Devas have no basis whatsoever” he said.

But a five-member high-level team, chaired by Pratyush Sinha, which examined the deal and identified acts of omission and commission by government officials, found “serious” administrative and procedural lapses and suggestion of “collusive behaviour” on the part of “certain individuals”, he said.

The Sinha panel concluded that the four former ISRO scientists were responsible for various acts of commissions.

A few days ago, Nair had written to the Minister in PMO, V Narayanasamy to order an inquiry into the reasons behind the annulment of the Antrix-Devas deal and the procedure followed.

Narayanasamy today told PTI that he has not yet seen the letter. “Let me go through it and then we will decide,” he said when asked if the government would order a fresh probe as requested by Nair.