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Devas vs Antrix: India acts

January 19, 2022

By Chris Forrester

The long-running and hugely expensive legal action between Devas Multimedia and the Antrix commercial arm of the Indian State Research Organisation (ISRO) has seen a ruling from India’s Supreme Court. The Court threw out the case brought by Devas.

The Court’s ruling said: “We find all the grounds of attack to the concurrent orders of the National Company Law Tribunal and its appeal body to be unsustainable. Therefore, the appeals by Devas Multimedia are dismissed.”

Antrix entered into an agreement in 2005 with Devas where ISRO would launch a pair of satellites and Devas was to be given use of the craft’s S-band frequencies. The Supreme Court added that the case involved “fraud of a huge magnitude which cannot be brushed under the carpet.”

The Court is correct and there is little doubt that fraud was involved at the very least with allegations against some senior figures at Antrix. India’s Central Bureau of Investigation police have acted against some senior Antrix/ISRO individuals.

But the Supreme Court went further with Justice Ramasubramanian saying: “If the seeds of the commercial relationship between Antrix 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”.

The issue is complicated by the fact that Devas has won action after action brought before international tribunals and courts. For example, the International Chamber of Commerce Arbitration Tribunal found in Devas’ favour in 2015, and ruled that Antrix must pay $562.5 million (and interest of 18 per cent per annum).

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