No backroom talks on Antrix-Devas deal: PM

No backroom talks on Antrix-Devas deal: PM

"There have been no backroom talks... There has been no effort in the PMO to dilute in any way the decision taken by the Space Commission in July 2010. On that, I would like to assure you and the country," Singh said in an interaction with Editors of news channels.

However, he said that if there has been delay in scrapping the deal, this has been "only procedural". "Though there has been some delay in processing, this was only procedural. The fact is that the contract was not operational in any practical sense," the Prime Minister said.

Antrix Corporation, ISRO's commercial arm, had signed a contract with Devas Multimedia in January 2005 for lease of 90 per cent transponders in two satellites to be built by ISRO. Bundled into the deal was 70 MHz of S-Band spectrum which was priced at Rs 1000 crore.

A media expose claimed that the deal could have caused loss of over Rs two lakh crore to the national exchequer. The Space Commission, which considered the matter at its meeting on July 2 last year, recommended termination of the deal.

Singh said following the Space Commission recommendation in July last year, a decision had to be taken on the how to annul the contract and consultations were held with the Law Ministry in this regard. "Eventually, it has been decided that the government should take a sovereign policy decision," Singh said. The Prime Minister said his office received a Cabinet note in November last year from the Department of Space for termination of the contract with Devas.

"... even then there were a number of consultations to polish it up... and the Department of Space itself took six revisions of the note before submitting it for approval," Singh said.

The Prime Minister said his office and members of the Space Commission continued to receive letters from Devas as also from the US Chambers of Commerce between August 2010 and February.

"No action was taken on any of these letters which were merely filed. At no stage the Department of Space was asked by the PMO to comment on the points made in the letters. They had no impact whatsoever on the processing of the case," he said.

Singh also rubbished reports that the German Foreign Minister had raised the Devas issue with him during his visit to India in October last year.

The Prime Minister said inter-ministerial consultations on the matter were almost complete and it would be out before the Cabinet Committee on Security for a final decision.