When corporate governance took a back seat

Our Bureau Bangalore | Updated on November 11, 2017

Will the Devas Multimedia contract fallout strengthen the way the Antrix Corporation board deals with its future commercial ventures?

Transparency was missing and corporate governance seemed to have been slack in clearing the deal or making its details known to quarters that matter; probably some board members acted in a strange manner, say sources Business Line spoke with.

On Tuesday, ISRO's current and former Chairmen may have saved the day with some direct but belated explanations on the deal. However, questions will continue to dog us on how the finer aspects of the agreement with Devas Multimedia did not catch the eye of the Antrix board. Or at a later level, the Space Commission that is the knowledge body for the department.

The board of around 10 members includes the cream of India Inc — Mr Ratan Tata and Mr Adi Godrej. The 10-12-member Space Commission includes the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, the National Security Adviser, the Finance Secretary and top aerospace and nuclear scientists (the Department of Space was born out of the Atomic Energy Department in the late 1960s)


An official with ISRO said the two satellites were approved by the Cabinet in December 2004.

Normally, the ISRO annual report available on its Web site puts out all details of its upcoming satellites and launch vehicles. There are no details of the projects now under question — GSat 6/Insat-4E and 6A. The contract had sought that this would not be put in public domain.

In contrast, the 1999 transponder lease to Intelsat, for example, also contracted by Antrix in one of its early commercial conquests, was proudly displayed and the revenue details were readily given out.


At Tuesday's news conference in Delhi, ISRO's Chairman, Dr Radhakrishnan, admitted that the agency delayed cancelling the agreement with Devas Multimedia as it feared the legal implications of calling it off. ISRO/Antrix Corporation, the 2005 agreement says, will have to pay Devas a penalty of $5 million per year's delay beyond 2008. Until now, the first satellite GSat-6 has not been launched.

Has the space agency paid any penalty so far? An ISRO source said no penalty was paid.

In case the private firm goes to court, the law of the land will apply and the arbitration is to be in New Delhi.

Published on February 08, 2011

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