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Antrix-Devas deal | FM Sitharaman hits out at Congress, says UPA government committed 'fraud against India'

Lashing out at the Congress party for "defrauding" the people of India, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said: "There was blatant selling of India’s resources when the Congress party was in power, and the Union Cabinet was not even aware of the deal. A sitting UPA minister was arrested in the scandal related to the deal later.”

January 18, 2022 / 09:27 PM IST
FM Nirmala Sitharaman. | PC-Moneycontrol

FM Nirmala Sitharaman. | PC-Moneycontrol

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held a press conference on January 18 to discuss the Antrix Devas issue, concerning the Antrix plea to liquidate Devas multimedia and the implications of the recent Supreme Court order.

Check LIVE Updates of FM Nirmala Sitharaman’s press conference here

The Finance Minister addressed the press conference on the Antrix-Devas case along with Minister of State for Corporate Affairs Inderjit S Rao and Rajesh Verma, Secretary, Corporate Affairs.

She began her address saying: “Want to draw everyone’s attention on the Supreme Court order on the Antrix-Devas case. The SC has upheld the NCLAT and NCLT order to liquidate Devas and the SC order is very comprehensive.”

The Supreme Court had on January 17 junked an appeal filed by Devas Multimedia challenging an order to wind up the company. A bench comprising Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice V Ramasubramanian dismissed the appeal filed by Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd.

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The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) upheld the earlier order of the Bengaluru bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), which had on May 25, 2021, directed winding up of Devas Multimedia and appointed a provisional liquidator for the purpose. The NCLT's direction was based on a petition filed by Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The FM then went on to speak about how the deal signed during the Congress rule a decade ago was a “fraud against India”. She said: “The Antrix Devas deal was signed during the UPA rule; it was a fraud against India. There was blatant selling of India’s resources when the Congress party was in power, and the Union Cabinet was not even aware of the deal. A sitting UPA minister was arrested in the scandal related to the deal later.”

After the UPA government cancelled the Antrix-Devas deal in 2011, Devas went to international arbitration, but the Government of India never appointed an arbitrator, despite being reminded to appoint one within 21 days, the Finance Minister said.

She added: “This kind of selling of primary endowments such as wavelengths, satellites, and spectrum bands, to private parties for making money marks the feature of the Congress governments.”

Nirmala Sitharaman further said: “The master game players in this are the Congress and with this Supreme Court order we are able to see that... The Supreme Court order shows how the UPA government indulged in wrong practices. The Antrix-Devas deal was against national security. Now it should be Congress’ turn to answer how the Cabinet was kept in dark and how this kind of fraud was perpetrated on the people of India. They have no moral right to speak about crony capitalism.”

She then went on to read out a passage from the SC order on the Antrix-Devas deal case, which stated: “If the seeds of the commercial relationship between Antrix [commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)] and Devas were a product of fraud perpetrated by Devas, every part of the plant that grew out of those seeds, such as the agreement, the disputes, arbitral awards, etc., are all infected with the poison of fraud. A product of fraud is in conflict with the public policy of any country, including India. The basic notions of morality and justice are always in conflict with fraud.”



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first published: Jan 18, 2022 04:42 pm
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