DELHI : Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Tuesday hit out at the UPA government for the Antrix-Devas deal. Terming the Supreme Court (SC) order as very comprehensive, she hit out at the previous Congress-led government saying that the Antrix-Devas deal was signed during the UPA rule and it was a fraud against India.
Addressing a press conference, Sitharaman said that a “sitting UPA minister got arrested” in the scam related to the deal. She added that blatant selling of the country’s resources took place during the UPA regime and said that the Cabinet was not even aware of the deal. The finance minister added that UPA government had never appointed an arbitrator in the Antrix Devas deal. She added, in 2011, when the whole thing was cancelled, Devas went to international arbitration. “The UPA government never appointed an arbitrator, they were reminded to appoint arbitrator within 21 days but the then government didn’t appoint it.”
She alleged that both the Antrix-Devas deal and the SC’s recent order show how the UPA government indulged in wrong practices. The finance minister also said that this deal was done against the national security of India and now it should be Congress party’s turn to tell how this kind of fraud was perpetrated on the people of the country.
Sitharaman said the NDA government is fighting in every court so that Devas doesn’t get away with the deal fraud. She said the liquidator has been appointed and the winding up process will begin soon. “We are fighting to save taxpayers’ money which otherwise would have gone towards the scandalous Antrix-Devas deal,” Sitharaman said. The Supreme Court Monday had upheld the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) order of winding up Devas (Digitally Enhanced Video and Audio Services) Multimedia Private Ltd, which in association with Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), aimed to deliver video, multimedia and information services via satellite to mobile receivers in vehicles and mobile phones across India. The court stated that it is a case of “fraud of a huge magnitude which cannot be brushed under the carpet, as a private lis (suit)”. The NCLAT had ordered winding up of Devas on May 25, 2021 on a petition by Antrix. This was affirmed by NCLAT on September 8, 2021.