Shareholders of Devas Multimedia have obtained confirmation of the arbitration award against Antrix in multiple countries including the Netherlands, Belgium, France, the UK and Luxembourg. This could be a step towards filing for seizure of assets owned by Indian public sector companies in these countries to enforce the award.
In 2012, Devas shareholders incorporated in Mauritius moved the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) against India, alleging violation of the obligation to protect shareholder’s interest as guaranteed under the India-Mauritius Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). The PCA ruled in favour of Devas shareholders in 2016 finding India in breach of the obligation to accord fair and equitable treatment leading to unlawful expropriation of Devas’ business. Subsequently, in 2020, the PCA awarded Devas over $111 million, plus interest against India.
Recently, in a bid to enforce the arbitration award against India, shareholders and investors of Devas Multimedia filed a petition in a US court seeking to attach the assets belonging to Air India. In January, Mauritian shareholders of Devas instituted confirmation proceedings for the BIT award in the US District Court of Columbia where proceedings are still going on.
“Devas will continue to pursue its rights and enforcement actions against India in courts around the world, regardless of the Indian government’s conduct against Devas within its own borders,” Matthew D. McGill of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, lead counsel for Devas shareholders, had said.
All this comes even as the Devas’ shareholders and its management lost control over the company after Indian courts allowed the appointment of a liquidator to wind it up.
In 2015, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) had awarded $672 million to Devas after Antrix cancelled an agreement to build, launch, and operate two satellites and make available 70 MHz of S-band spectrum. Devas had challenged Antrix’s decision to cancel a 2005 contract for building two satellites for Devas, citing alleged irregularities in the deal. This award was confirmed by the Settle District Court in November 2020 and subsequently, $1.3 billion was awarded in its favour. Antrix has appealed against this confirmation order before the Ninth Circuit Court . The Hindu BusinessLine