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Antrix challenges restraining order by US court

ISRO’s commercial arm Antrix Corp has filed a petition with a US District Court in Washington seeking to revoke a temporary restraining order (TRO) against a possible settlement in the dispute with Devas Multimedia.

Antrix has argued that the possibility of such a settlement was hypothetical at this point in time and secondly, the settlement, if any, will have to be first approved by an Indian court.

The US court had given a temporary injunction after shareholders of Devas Multimedia filed a petition that Antrix could force a settlement on Devas without the consent of its shareholders. This situation has arisen because in January Antrix filed a petition in the National Company Law Tribunal to wind up Devas on allegations of fraud.

Provisional liquidator
NCLT appointed a Provisional Liquidator who instructed Devas’ counsel, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, not to appear on behalf of the company with respect to ongoing litigations. But Skadden would continue to represent the minority shareholder’s interests. On February 3, 2021, the Provisional Liquidator filed a report stating that Devas was a sham company that defrauded Antrix and engaged in other illegal conduct.

Meanwhile, Devas Employees Mauritius Private Limited (DEMPL), an entity controlled by Devas CEO, filed an appeal with NCLAT challenging the report. Simultaneously, another appeal was filed with the US court seeking a restriction order “prohibiting Devas from taking any action with respect to the arbitral award” or “entering into any form of agreement with Antrix or India with respect to the conduct of litigation respecting the Award” . It was argued that such an order was needed because Devas and Antrix might enter into a settlement agreement and that they could stipulate to set aside the $1.2-billion arbitration award by the International Chamber of Commerce.

No settlement soon
Antrix has, however, told the US court “any potential settlement is still remote because the NCLT has not issued a winding up order and, unless and until it does, there can be no settlement. Even if a settlement materialises, there will be several layers of review in the Indian courts. DEMPL has been actively litigating in the Liquidation Proceedings and would, therefore, have an opportunity to be heard on the matter.”

The Indian agency also added that it is undisputed that India is the primary jurisdiction under the convention and the US is merely a secondary jurisdiction. “Nothing in the convention contemplates, much less authorises, a court in a secondary jurisdiction to supervise the proceedings in the primary jurisdiction or other courts of secondary jurisdiction – which is exactly what the TRO prescribes,” Antrix said in its application filed with the US court.

Antrix Corporation had filed an appeal against this order in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Hindu Business Line

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