Bangalore: K R Sridhara Murthi, who headed Antrix when it signed the controversial deal with Devas, says the entire process, including the then policy and background to the agreement, should be made public and not just two key reports on the basis of which action has been taken against him and three others.
Speaking to PTI here, Murthi, the then Executive Director of Antrix, ISRO’s marketing arm, who later became its Managing Director, said putting only the two reports in public domain amounts “selective and limited view” of the issue and would not give a full picture.
Under attack from former ISRO chief Madhavan Nair who accused him of being behind the action to debar four scientists from holding any government posts over the deal, ISRO chief K Radhakrishnan earlier this week announced the intention to make the two reports public.
The first the report of the Government-constituted high-powered committee comprised B K Chaturvedi and Roddam Narasimha to “review the technical, commercial, procedural and financial aspects” of the 2005 agreement. The committee submitted its report to the Prime Minister in March 2011.
A five-member high-level team headed by former Central Vigilance Commissioner Pratyush Sinha, set up in May last year to examine the deal and identify acts of omission and commission by government officials, gave the second report.
“It’s not only the reports. They should make the entire thing public. The report (Sinha team) may contain some particular viewpoint. It depends on the process employed by the report (Sinha team)”, Murthi said.
“While we have all appreciation for the process followed by the first committee (Chaturvedi and Narasimha), the second committee (Sinha)…I don’t know…because we are not given an opportunity to defend ourselves”, he said.”It’s not just that the reports should be out but also the entire thing…basis…background…every thing should be put into public domain. We have no problem if that’s done. Instead of selectively putting just report alone…again it represents a particular viewpoint…some process which is followed which is not convincing for us”, Murthi said.
When asked about many seeing ISRO’s intention to make the reports public as one aimed at defending the action against the four scientists, he agreed that “that kind of motivation may be there. That’s why I am saying put every thing in public domain…But it can’t be selective.”
He said now everybody is judging the issue based on limited information and background. “Unless there are proper experts sitting together and seeing the whole thing, it will not give that kind of (full) picture. But at the same time, putting anything (the two reports) in public domain…that’s fine”.
He explained that like any deal on transponder leasing, ISRO has gone through a lot of processes before the agreement with Devas. First-come-first-served policy was prevailing at the time. “So, it’s not that somebody was denied. If one more party (company seeking transponders on lease) came, we have to think of one more satellite. Any agreement does not prevent us from providing capacity to another party”.
Murthi underlined that once somebody gets transponders, the party has to obtain necessary licences for starting services and operationalisation from government authorities which are independent of capacity lease.
“This (Antrix-Devas) agreement is not in contravention to any such responsibility on the part of service providers.”
He said projecting that the deal caused a great loss is without basis and without understanding the policy aspects, technology and application environment and that has clouded the whole issue, which needs to be looked at holistically and properly. ” ..projecting something as a scam is painful for us”, he said. Terming the action against the four scientists as “painful”, Murthi said: “Certainly, this is not the kind of thing we want to have at the end. That’s the pain. Some of the challenges we have face squarely.”
Murthi said the action was not all justified, and he is looking forward for an opportunity to defend himself. First of all, he wants to know why this action has been taken.
The action was not conveyed to him and he came to now of it only through the media. “That’s the worst part of it”.
Asked if he subscribed to Madhavan Nair’s view that Radhakrishnan is behind the action as he is motivated by a “personal agenda”, and that it’s a “witch-hunt” and “vendetta” against them, Murthi declined to comment.
“It’s difficult to comment on such things. I don’t want to get into that kind of comments by certain people’s view..certainly not”, Murthi said, adding, it’s difficult to say “without knowing what exactly is the analysis (for the action) and how they have gone about”.