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India halts ISRO/Antrix payment to Devas

November 6, 2020

By Chris Forrester

Last week a US Federal Court upheld a previous verdict from the International Court of Commerce (delivered on September 14th) that India Space Research Organisation and its commercial arm Antrix must pay a total of $1.2 billion to Devas Multimedia.

However, November 4th saw India’s Supreme Court stay the award.  The judges, headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde and comprising of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Indu Malhotra, formally stayed the execution of the international award, which was passed by the US court. The bench said it is keeping the US order in abeyance and transferred the proceedings from the Bengaluru court to the Delhi High Court.

The US District Court, Western District of Washington, ordered Antrix to compensate Devas to the extent of $562.5 million coupled with the interest – the total damages coming to about $1.2 billion.

The dispute centres on the use of S-band spectrum and an agreement that devas could commercially exploit the spectrum. That agreement was cancelled by the Indian government.

“The petition to confirm foreign arbitral award, is granted,” US federal court Judge Thomas S Zilly said in an 18-page order issued on October 27. According to the court ruling, the “full amount of the award – $562.5 million – together with pre-award simple interest at the rate of three-month US$ LIBOR +4 per cent, from February 25, 2011, to the date of the award, September 14, 2015 (an extra $672,791.593)” is the compensation that Antrix Corporation has to pay Devas Multimedia for cancellation of the 2005 agreement.

Additionally, the Arbitration court has ruled that simple interest at the rate of 18 per cent per annum on the award amount “from the date of the award” (which is September 14, 2015) “to the date that judgment is entered (at $331,787 per day)” must be paid by ISRO. “Any objections to the amount of the Judgment shall be filed on or before November 3,” the court stated.

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