The government on Wednesday barred four space scientists — including the architect of the moon mission — from taking up government jobs for their alleged role in the Antrix-Devas scam and started a war of words between two top scientists in India.
The action is a knock-on effect of the deal in which Antrix, the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation, allotted S-band spectrum or airwaves — a scarce natural resource — to a private company, Devas, allegedly by flouting rules.
The scientists include G Madhavan Nair, who oversaw almost 15 satellite launches, steered the moon mission and also allegedly got the deal cleared by the cabinet — allegedly by hiding irregularities.
But Nair on Wednesday squarely blamed his successor and the current Isro head, K Radhakrishnan, for “misleading” the government. He said his successor had a “personal agenda” to run him down.
Minister of state in Prime Minister's Office V Narayanasamy, however, told HT that the step was a “milder” action, sparing the scientists — all retired — of tougher charges on account of their contribution to science and technology.
Dismissing Nair’s charge, Narayanasamy said Radhakrishnan had nothing to do with him. “Why is he blaming Radhakrishnan? The action was taken on the basis of the findings of two committees,” he said.
The decision was based on the findings of two probe panels, one of them set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Some of the findings, including breach of transparency, could have led to prosecution of those involved, sources said.
But the scientists’ role could come up for further scrutiny since the matter is now under litigation. Satellites were sought to be put into space purely for private commercial use, a fact, the probe found, was not revealed to the Cabinet when the deal was brought before it for approval.
The deal, struck in 2005, had been scrapped in February 2011after it was found to have been inked without a proper bid.