Government Blacklists Former ISRO Officials

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The Indian government has barred four former executives of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), including one-time chairman Madhavan Nair, from holding future government positions in the latest fallout from a controversial satellite leasing deal.

The action, which was taken Jan. 13 but became public knowledge Jan. 25 via television, stems from a deal between Devas Multimedia and ISRO on the marketing rights to capacity aboard a pair of S-band satellites funded by the agency. Devas, managed by former ISRO officials, obtained those rights at what critics called a below-market price and without competition, sparking an investigation that resulted in the contract’s nullification last year.

Besides Nair, others blacklisted for their alleged role in the deal are K. Bhaskaranarayana, former scientific secretary at ISRO; K.N. Shankara, former director of the ISRO Satellite Centre; and K.R. Sridharamurthi, former executive director of Antrix Corp., ISRO’s commercial arm.

In July 2011, Devas, whose stakeholders include Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, filed for arbitration with the International Court of Arbitration in London.

In a Jan. 26 interview, Nair denied any wrongdoing. “I have not been told what I am charged with,” he said. “Once I get the details I will decide on a course of action including legal.”