New Delhi: The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Thursday decided to terminate the controversial deal between ISRO’s commercial wing Antrix and Devas citing national security.
The decision to annul the deal was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the basis of a recommendation from the Space Commission.
“The deal between the Devas and Antrix shall be annulled. We concluded that this deal can be annulled. Government cannot afford to grant the S-Band to any one including Antrix because of strategic reasons,” said Law Minister Veerappa Moily.
“The prime minister is not at fault nor the government is at fault. This is a Cabinet decision,” he said.
The annulment comes in the wake of a raging controversy over the deal for handing over 70 Mhz of S-Band spectrum to the private firm for Rs 1,000 crore on which the CAG has already initiated action.
According to certain estimates, this deal may have resulted in a loss of Rs two lakh crore to the exchequer.
After reports about the possible revenue loss appeared, the Government and ISRO said the project was already under review and action has been initiated for termination of the contract.
The Prime Minister said on Wednesday that the deal had never been operationalised and rejected suggestions that his office had held “backroom” talks with Devas after the Space Commission’s decision to scrap the deal.
He had said that if there has been delay in scrapping the deal, this has been “only procedural”.
Devas Multimedia had on Wednesday termed as “disturbing and inappropriate” the government’s “unilateral” decision to terminate the agreement and threatened to take legal action.
It said the government had reached the decision “without due investigative process and without following the principles of natural justice”.
The Cabinet’s decision raises some questions that the government needs to answer but might find it too uncomfortable to do so.
Was the Antrix-Devas deal against India’s interests?
Is cancelling the deal an admission that the government erred in okaying it?
Will the government’s decision affect future investments in space research?
Did the government decide to annul the deal to fight corruption taint?
Will Devas move international courts against this order?