A special court on Friday granted CBI time till September 29 for getting appropriate sanction from authorities concerned to prosecute former senior officials in Antrix-Devas deal case including ex-ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair, even as it questioned the probe agency about delay in filing the charge sheet. “It is submitted by Investigating Officer that he is filing documents today and that it will require some more time in receiving the sanction under Section 197 CrPC, which may take about one month…,” it said, posting the matter on September 29.
Special CBI Judge Vinod Kumar asked the probe officer as to why filing of the charge sheet in the case took such a long time when the FIR was filed much earlier. The FIR was filed on March 16, 2015 against Nair and other senior officials, accused of facilitating “wrongful” gain of Rs 578 crore to private multi-media company Devas by Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO. CBI had on August 11 charged Nair and senior Space Department officials with causing a loss of Rs 578 crore to the exchequer by abusing their official position to favour a private company.
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 Devas Multimedia by Antrix. 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 charge sheet had accused the then Secretary, Department of Space, Chairman, ISRO and Antrix Corporation Madhavan Nair, Devas Multimedia and seven others of criminal conspiracy, cheating and under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act. Besides Nair, others named in the charge sheet as accused included 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.