The Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) has refused to divulge minutes of meetings of its Space Commission, where the Antix-Devas deal was discussed, reports Zee News. Citing national security as the reason, ISRO refused to share the information which was demanded through an RTI application, seeking minutes of all Space commission meetings, starting 2005 where the deal was discussed. Although, section 10 of the RTI Act has a severability clause which allows a public authority to remove the information which is exempted from disclosure under the transparency law, the organisation said that,”Information is related to security and scientific interests of the State” and outrightly rejected the application.
[Nikhil adds: Frankly, it’s questionable whether a discussion on a commercial deal can come under the ambit of ‘National Security’. Is there a clear definition of what exactly comes under National Security, and what doesn’t? Would minutes of meetings related to the 2G Spectrum Scam come under ‘National Security’? Surely, something like ‘scientific interests of the State’ shouldn’t be covered by National Security]
The controversial S-Band spectrum deal between ISRO’s commercial arm, Antrix and Deutsche Telekom backed Devas Multimedia, was scrapped by the Indian government’s Cabinet Committee on Security, after the media reported irregularities in the deal, to offer commercial benefit to Devas, a company founded by former Scientific Secretary at ISRO, MG Chandrasekhar. The deal had provisions for allotting 70 MHz of scarce S-Band spectrum, would have caused a loss of Rs 2,00,000 crore to the government.
Under the agreement, Antrix was obliged to lease, build, launch and operate satellites in partnership with Devas, and was also responsible for obtaining all necessary Governmental and Regulatory Approvals relating to orbital slot and frequency clearances, and funding for the satellite to facilitate Devas services.
– Devas Had Planned S-DMB Mobile TV Services; Notes From The Antrix Agreement
– Spectrum Allocation To Deutsche Telekom Backed Devas MultiMedia Being Investigated
– Devas Multimedia-ISRO Mobile TV / Broadband Spectrum Deal Under The Scanner: Report