Deal On Congress Watch Was "Fraud On India," Says Nirmala Sitharaman: 10 Points

The case involves a satellite deal in 2005 between the Indian Space Research Organisation's commercial arm Antrix and Bengaluru-based startup Devas Multimedia.

"The fraud in the Antrix-Devas deal was obvious," Nirmala Sitharaman said (File)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court's order on the 2005 Antrix-Devas deal is "proof of the Congress's misuse of power", Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today. The Supreme Court on Monday upheld an order to wind up Bengaluru-based startup Devas Multimedia.

Following are the top 10 developments in this story:

  1. The case involves a satellite deal in 2005 between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO's) commercial arm Antrix and Devas Multimedia, a startup formed in December 2004.

  2. Under the agreement, Antrix had agreed to build, launch and operate two satellites and lease out 90% of the satellite transponder capacity to Devas, which planned to use it to offer hybrid satellite and terrestrial communication services in the country.

  3. The deal included 70 MHz of S-band spectrum worth ₹ 1,000 crore. This spectrum is restricted for use by security forces and government-run telecom companies.

  4. When the Congress-led government cancelled the deal in 2011, amid a haze of allegations, Devas challenged the decision and was awarded Rs 15,000 crore. The government will oppose the international award granted to Devas after the Supreme Court order, Ms Sitharaman said.

  5. The Supreme Court, ordering Devas to wind up, said, "It is a case of fraud of a huge magnitude which cannot be brushed under the carpet."

  6. "It was a fraud of the Congress, for the Congress, by the Congress. The fraud in the Antrix-Devas deal was obvious and the Supreme Court's order was proof of the Congress' misuse of power," the Finance Minister said on the verdict.

  7. "This is what the greed of the UPA has done. The government is fighting in every court to make sure the fraud doesn't get away," Ms Sitharaman said, adding, "We are fighting to save taxpayers' money which otherwise would have gone to pay for the scandalous Antrix-Devas deal."

  8. She alleged that when the deal was cancelled in 2011 and arbitration began, Antrix was asked to appoint an arbitrator to defend the government but it never did.

  9. In 2016, former ISRO chief G Madhavan Nair and other officials were charged by the CBI for allegedly facilitating a gain of Rs 578 crore to Devas.

  10. Antrix approached the National Company Law Tribunal, or NCLAT, saying senior company officials including the then chairman in 2005 signed the contract with Devas using illegal methods. The NCLAT, and the Bengaluru bench of the National Company Law Tribunal, or NCLT, then ordered Devas to shut shop in May 2021. Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld the order.