As some ministers joined critics to raise questions about the controversial spectrum deal between Antrix and a private firm, Devas Multimedia at Thursday's Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tasked a two-member panel, led by former cabinet secretary BK Chaturvedi, to report on the deal.
But the move failed to help the Centre as Chaturvedi's inclusion in the panel provoked a fresh round of attacks. The BJP wondered how Chaturvedi could probe the issue when he had approved the controversial agreement as cabinet secretary in 2005.
"Is it right if decisions taken by some people are investigated by the same people," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman asked, insisting that the new panel set up by the government was "an attempt to cover up" the issue.
Chaturvedi - the man at the centre of the storm on Thursday - debunked allegations that he would not be able to do a fair job since he was the cabinet secretary when the deal was approved. Professor Roddam Narasimha, Space Commission member is the second member of the panel.
"That is not an issue here…We have to suggest changes in procedure to prevent anything like this in future," Chaturvedi said, refusing to comment further.
The department of space had allocated 70 MHz of S-Band spectrum to Devas Multimedia - a private firm that floated by former Isro officials - for Rs 1,000 crore.
Official sources said overseas affairs and civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi was the first one to raise the issue, wondering why it took so long to cancel the lease agreement on S-band spectrum between ISRO's commercial wing Antrix and Devas.
He also flagged the issue of security concerns since Americans were on the board of Devas.