The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by Devas Multimedia challenging an order of the NCLT to wind up the company.
The NCLAT upheld the earlier order of the Bengaluru bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), which had on May 25, 2021 directed winding up of Devas Multimedia and appointed a provisional liquidator for the purpose.
NCLT’s direction had come over a petition filed by Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
The NCLT had said Devas Multimedia was incorporated with a fraudulent motive to collude and connive with the then officials of Antrix Corporation to get bandwidth from it by entering into an agreement in 2005, which was subsequently cancelled by the government.
This order was challenged by Devas Multimedia and its shareholder Devas Employees Mauritius Private Ltd before the Chennai bench of NCLAT, which on Wednesday dismissed the petition.
“This Tribunal has come to a consequent conclusion that the Company Appeal is not maintainable in law…,” said the two-member NCLAT bench comprising Justice M Venugopal and V P Singh.
The order of winding up of Devas Multimedia is “undoubtedly, cemented on, just, fair, reasonable and equitable ground to relieve an ‘abuse’ and the same is free from any legal flaws,” it added.
It further said the agreement by Devas with Antrix was “through fraud, misrepresentation or suppression”.
According to Devas, what this agreement intended to achieve was first-of-its-kind and a tremendous innovation. As a result, Devas introduced and utilised technologies like never before and was a huge revenue generator for Antrix.
“This Tribunal finds it rather strange that such a vast and vital agreement dated 28.01.2005 was allowed to be signed by an Article Clerk who had no background in science and technology, especially with the functioning of Devas Services and was given remuneration for signing the agreement,” it noted.
Devas Multimedia was incorporated on December 17, 2004.
According to the winding up petition filed by the commercial arm of ISRO before NCLT, the then officials of Antrix Corporation including its then chairman had executed a contract dated January 28, 2005.
This was terminated on February 25, 2011, as it was obtained fraudulently in connivance of the then officials. Investigating agencies CBI and Enforcement Directorate have unearthed fraud in executing the agreement, Antrix had said.
CBI had later filed chargesheets and ED had initiated PMLA proceedings. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) had also initiated an investigation into the affairs of Devas Multimedia but a stay was granted by the Delhi High Court. Business Standard