Policy

Decision to annul Antrix deal with Devas stands: PM

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on February 17, 2011

A TV grab of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, during an interaction with the Editors of TV channels at his residence in New Delhi on Wednesday. -- PTI   -  PTI

Rejecting requests by Devas Multimedia to review its agreement with Antrix, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on Wednesday said there was no question of diluting the Space Commission's decision to annul the deal.

Responding to questions from Editors of TV news channels, Dr Singh said the deal between ISRO and Devas was not operational as the Space Commission had decided to scrap the contract on July 2, 2010.

“The Space Commission took a number of decisions, of which the annulment of contract was one. The Department of Space was asked to take action on all the five decisions that emerged from the meeting,” Dr Singh said. The Prime Minister's comments come after Business Line revealed the nature of the deal to build two S-band satellites and lease capacity from them to Devas

Following the expose, Devas had written to the Prime Minister saying it was willing for a review of the agreement. Now, responding to the Prime Minister's comments, the Bangalore-based start-up said it would take legal action if the deal was nixed.

“Devas Multimedia reiterates that it has a legally binding agreement dated January 28, 2005, with Antrix. The contract has not been cancelled by the Government as of date and Devas has not elected to terminate the agreement despite Antrix being in material breach,” the company said. “Devas expects the Government to fulfil all its obligations under the agreement and will take strong, including legal, steps to protect the company's rights and interests.”

Devas had earlier said that it had met senior Government officials but was not told about the Space Commission's decision in 2010.

No ‘backroom' talks

Asked why meetings were held with the company even after the Space Commission had decided to annul the deal, Dr Singh said there were no backroom talks and he had not met anybody from the company. “Letters from Devas were received by members of the Space Commission and also the PMO. But no action was taken on any of these letters. At no stage was the Department of Space asked by the PMO to comment on the points made in these letters. They had no impact whatsoever on processing of the case,” Dr Singh said.

Dr Singh admitted that there had been delays in executing the Space Commission's decision. “The delay in processing was only procedural. The issue of how to annul the contract required consideration by legal experts and the law ministry was consulted,” he said, adding that inter-ministerial consultations on the issue are almost over and the final decision will be taken by the Cabinet Committee on Security.

Devas said that it had concerns about the Government's statement on “pre-meditated” annulment of the agreement.

“The Government's unilateral decision without due investigative process and without following the principles of natural justice is disturbing and inappropriate,” it said.

>tkt@thehindu.co.in

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Published on February 17, 2011
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