|Veena Rao (Photo Courtesy: Twitter)|
“I hear from some newspaper reports that the CBI appears to have named me in a chargesheet regarding the Antrix Devas Contract. Shocking, laughable and ludicrous”, says retired IAS and former union secretary Veena Rao in a long Facebook post, making it possibly the first case where a charge-sheeted civil servant (in her case retired) takes to social media to argue a case. Retired in 2009, Rao’s name cropped up in the case as she was an additional secretary working in the department of space from December 2004 to December 2005. The ongoing CBI probe is related to…a 2005 deal between ISRO’s commercial wing Antrix Corporation and Bengaluru-based Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd where the investigating agency alleges Rs 578 crore loss to the exchequer. “I took charge as Additional Secretary, Dept of Space on December 22, 2004, and handed over charge in December 2005. The Antrix Devas Contract was approved at the Antrix Board meeting held on December 24, 2004. I was NOT present at the Board meeting, as I had not yet been appointed to the Antrix Board, and therefore had no knowledge of it. It is difficult to imagine how I could have entered into a conspiracy within 2 days after my taking charge, regarding a Contract approved at a Board meeting, at which I was not even present!” Rao said in a Facebook post dated August 12, 2016.
The CBI has also named former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair and former Antrix executive director KR Sreedharamurthi among others in the case. It is alleged that an ineligible private company was given a huge contract.
Rao in her post said that the Cabinet Note, to be prepared by the technical division in complete fidelity with the approved Space Commission Note, must be channelled through the department of space starting from under secretary, deputy secretary, joint secretary, additional secretary, and vetted by joint secretary finance and member finance, thereby questioning how come she would be responsible alone when there is such a huge hierarchy scrutinizing and approving the proposal.
Rao further questioned the authenticity of the documents shown to her by the CBI. “When the CBI came to record my statement along with their papers, I categorically pointed out to them that the photocopied papers they were showing me were not genuine. I have sent e mails to them which I am placing below. Where have the original documents disappeared?”, she questions.
The retired IAS officer further released in Facebook some of the correspondences (emails) that she had with the CBI officials.
It's expected that the CBI would possibly answer to her questions in the court.
Rao, a post graduate in political science from the University of Jammu and Kashmir, and then in development studies from the University of Cambridge, UK, retired as the secretary of the ministry for the Development of the North East Region (DoNER).
Currently based in Bengaluru, Rao has recently published her debut novel “Charlotte’s End”.