Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Antrix-Devas Scam: Retired IAS takes to Facebook to question CBI; releases her emails sent to the investigative agency

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”. 


  1. Rao may or may not be innocent but her defences are weak. Non-appointment to the board is certainly not a reason to not know what's the board agenda in advance or post-facto.

    Personally I feel she was just careless or negligent and never bothered to get familiar with the Antrix deal. Had she done so she might have been on the prosecution side.

    Brigadier S.S. Dhillon (retd.)

    1. It is sad that people who have never ever been to such positions of responsibility comment on such issues. If one is not nominated to a board, the agenda notes would not come to you.secondly, without going into what exactly was placed before the board how can you any one make an informed comment. And lastly where is the proof that she was part of a criminal conspiracy or benefited financially. It is all effort at finding minutest of fault and then converting it to criminal liability under the garb of PCA. Partha sarthi Sen Sharma, IAS

    2. As a matter of fact I was on the board of a small army welfare institution in my service as Colonel. It was standard practice to send a copy of the agenda to directors and to the COAS / VCOAS who were at the top of the reporting hierarchy, much like this retired IAS officer was. As an addl secretary (equal to Lt. Gen) it is foolishness to suggest she "was not aware" of the board agenda in a wholly owned government undertaking, that too in a sector like space.

      I maintain my view that she was quite likely negligent in not being aware of what was happening and therefore deserves to be prosecuted though for a less severe offence.

      Brigadier S.S.Dhillon (retd.)

  2. Releasing correspondence with CBI,by Ms Veena Rao,on her facebook,was most inappropriate and unwarranted.

    Questioning the documents produced by the CBI,is baffling.These merely compound her alleged misconduct,if any.

    Her post-retirement behaviour reflects the arrogance of a retired officer-cum- author who is ever-ready to pass on the buck to her juniors.

    It will not be fair to go into merits of the case in absence of relevant records.But,there is definitely something fishy.

    The retired officer may be advised to co-operate with the CBI. Failing to do so would complicate her case.

    A saga of irregularities, inconsistencies,haughtiness and egotism.

    A K SAXENA (A retd civil servant)

  3. A person two days old in the department would not even know what the responsibilities were.CBI has been targeting IAS and IRS officers both guilty and innocent.How many IPS or Armed forces officers have they arrested?I do not support any lapses on the part of an IAS OFFICER because they are supposed to be the guardians of law and the constitution.I have been intolerant of not only corruption but lack of courage to oppose any wrongful act by any officer who worked under me and I have had retired armed forces officers,IAS and the whole IRS under me.CBI MUST SHOW NO MERCY TO ANYBODY WHEN THEY DETECT UNACCOUNTED PROPERTY AND ASSETS WITH ANY OFFICIAL BUT THEY MUST BE CAREFUL INALL OTHER CASES.
    But alas the judiciary escapes.

  4. Any Board will make their decision based on the background notes prepared by the office of which she was the head, implementation would have been carried out by her office, if she had any doubts about the decisions taken by the board she should have recorded them,at least, if she had,the CBI would not have come knocking. An additional secretary is NOT a glorified post office

  5. "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!"

    This sums up the sad state of the bureaucracy. While it is perhaps possible though not probable that as a newly appointed Addl Secy Ms Rao had NO idea about the board agenda it is inexcusable that she took no action subsequently. Having served in Ministry of PNG I know it is quite improbable for any development to take place without the knowledge of JS/AS/Sec. IF a person is newly appointed and truly knows nothing the agenda is deferred. If not the officer is expected to bring herself / himself upto speed.

    The reasons cited by MS Rao seem designed to obfuscate and are patently silly.