Devas falsely claimed to have IPR of hybrid technology: CBI

Devas falsely claimed to have IPR of hybrid technology: CBI

Devas falsely claimed to have IPR of hybrid technology: CBI

Devas Multimedia had pocketed the deal with Antrix within a month of its inception on the basis of an allegedly false claim that it has IPR of a new technology for delivering multimedia content which saw its share price skyrocket 12,5000 times, according to CBI.

In its charge sheet filed recently, CBI has claimed that the deal was bagged on the basis of false claims that Devas has Intellectual Property Rights to use a hybrid technology of satellite as well as terrestrial signals to deliver multimedia content to users.

The agency alleged that while the company was set up on December 17, 2004, it entered the deal with Antrix, commercial arm of ISRO, on January 28, 2005.

It alleged in the charge sheet that Antrix did not do due diligence to the claims made by the company and even concealed the deal with Devas Multimedia from Space Commission and other "competent authority" when it sought budgetary sanction for building the satellite.

The deal helped Devas Multimedia rake in the moolah with its share price surging from Rs 10 per share at the time of inception to Rs 1.25 lakh after the deal was signed, CBI alleged in the charge sheet.

It claimed that the company also managed to get a Foreign Direct Investment of Rs 579 crore after the deal.

CBI alleged that Antrix was not competent to sign the deal with Devas as the claim was about a new technology which needed sanction from Department of Space, Space Commission and other functionaries of the Government.

The agency has alleged that according to SATCOM policy, the deal should have been executed by Department of Space instead of Antrix.

The case relates to leasing S-Band, restricted wavelength of the INSAT satellites to deliver video, multimedia and information services to mobile receivers in vehicle and mobile phones to a private company Devas Multimedia by Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO.

It was alleged in the FIR that the lease was given in violation of rules causing undue gain of Rs 578 crore to Devas Multimedia and corresponding loss to the exchequer.

The CBI had filed its charge sheet on August 11 before special judge at Patiala House court in which it named the then Secretary Department of Space, Chairman ISRO and Antrix Corporation G Madhavan Nair, Devas Multimedia and seven others for criminal conspiracy, cheating and under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.

Besides Nair, others named in the charge sheet as accused include the then Executive Director of Antrix K R Sridhar Murthy, former Managing Director of Forge Advisors and CEO of Devas Ramachandra Vishwanathan, and the then Director of Devas M G Chandrasekhar.

Former Additional Secretary in the Department of Space Veena S Rao, the then Director in ISRO A Bhaskar Narayana Rao and two directors of Devas Multimedia D Venugopal and M Umesh were also named in the charge sheet as accused.

Reacting to CBI charge sheet, Devas Multimedia had alleged that the CBI charge sheet against it was a "mala fide act" of the Indian government in retaliation for exercising their legal rights arising out of the "illegal" annulment of the Devas-Antrix contract.

Defending the decision to lease coveted spectrum of INSAT satellite to Devas Multimedia, former ISRO chief Nair said in company to company agreement, government is not kept in the loop and this practice is still continuing. He said over a dozen such agreements were signed by Antrix with different companies providing similar services.

"The leasing of transponder capacity has been the primary role of Antrix/DOS and we have established in that time frame more than a dozen such agreements with major players like Tata Sky, Sun Tv etc who hired transponder capacity from us.
This hiring of transponder capacity by Devas was on same lines, it was no way different," Nair said.

The former Secretary, Space Department said ISRO never bothered about what business gains any of these companies make out of their using the transponder.

"Which among them were part of the documentation process required for the Space Commission approval for GSAT 6, or were actual Space Commission Members, or were part of the documentation process required for Cabinet approval?" Rao who has been named in the charge sheet reacted in a post on Facebook.

She said, "And if there are such persons, for which there is the highest certainty, why on earth did they hold back the information about the Antrix Devas Contract, which they knew about, when they processed the Space Commission or Cabinet Note approval papers, or sat as Space Commission Members?"

Rao said strange that none of the investigation agencies or watchdogs of government who are so desperately looking for conspirators or culprits want to see these linkages, or think that it is important to connect these dots.

"Or is it because too many holy cows would be exposed? And their gau rakshaks as well?" she said.

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