What is Antrix-Devas Case?

What started with the signing of a deal ended in decade-long arbitrations and legal tussles between Devas and the Indian government. Read the timeline of the case below.
Created On: Jan 19, 2022 11:57 IST
Modified On: Jan 19, 2022 12:15 IST
What is Antrix-Devas Case?
What is Antrix-Devas Case?

Antrix-Devas Case: The Supreme Court upheld the September 2021 NCLAT order on 17 January 2022 to wind up Devas on a petition filed by Antrix Corporation Ltd and dismissed the appeal filed by Devas Multimedia and its shareholder Devas Employees Mauritius Pvt Ltd.

"Finding of the Tribunal, (a) that a public largesse was doled out in favour of Devas, in contravention of the public policy in India; (b) that Devas enticed Antrix/ISRO to enter into an MoU followed by an Agreement by promising to provide something that was not in existence at that time and which did not come into existence even later; (c) that the licenses and approvals were for completely different services; and (d) that the services offered were not within the scope of SATCOM Policy etc. are actually borne out by records, " the SC stated. 

Also Read | Explained: What is the Toolkit case?

Timeline of Antrix Devas Case:

What started with the signing of a deal ended in decade-long arbitrations and legal tussles between Devas and the Indian government. 

Antrix-Devas Case: Inking of the Agreement

January 2005: An agreement was inked between Isro’s commercial arm Antrix and Bengaluru-based startup Devas Multimedia. Under the agreement, Antrix agreed to build, launch and operate two satellites and charter 90% of the satellite transponder capacity to Devas for 12 years for Rs. 167 crore which would offer hybrid satellite and terrestrial communication services pan India. Devas were given access to 70 MHz of S-band spectrum, something that is reserved only for security services of India.

Antrix-Devas Case: Cancelling of the deal

February 2011: The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called off the deal citing security reasons. At that time, G Madhavan Nair was serving as ISRO's Chairperson.

Antrix-Devas Case: CBI filed the charge sheet

August 2016: CBI charge-sheeted former ISRO Chairperson G Madhavan Nair and others in a wrongful gain of Rs. 578 crore to Devas. 

Antrix-Devas Case: Compensation to Devas

September 2017: A compensation of a whopping $1.3 billion was awarded to Devas by the ICC on the appeal of foreign investors in Devas. 

Antrix-Devas Case: Breach of Germany bilateral investment treaty

June 2019: In an arbitration initiated by Devas’ foreign shareholder Deutsche Telekom AG, the United Nations Commission On International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) tribunal found India in breach of Germany bilateral investment treaty. 

Antrix-Devas Case: Confirmation of UNCITRAL order in US court

June 2020: Three Mauritius-based entities who held a 37.5% stake in Devas sought confirmation of the UNCITRAL tribunal order in a US Columbia district court. These entities were CC/Devas (Mauritius) Ltd, Devas Employees Mauritius Pvt Ltd, and Telcom Devas Mauritius Ltd. 

Antrix-Devas Case: US court ordered Antrix to pay compensation

October 2020: US federal court for the Western District of Washington confirmed ICC's compensation and directed Antrix to pay the compensation to Devas. 

Antrix-Devas Case: SC stayed the US court order

November 2020: The apex court of India stayed the US court order and directed Delhi High Court to hear arguments against the enforcement of the compensation.

Antrix-Devas Case: Antrix initiated a petition against Devas 

January 2021: Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) directed Antrix to initiate a petition against Devas under the companies Act. The petition was admitted by NCLT and a provisional liquidator was appointed.

Antrix-Devas Case: Winding of Devas Multimedia

September 2021: The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) upheld the NCLT order to wind up Devas.

Antrix-Devas Case: Seizure of assets ordered by the Canadian court 

November-December 2021: A Canadian court in Quebec authorised the seizure of Airport Authority of India (AAI) and Air India (AI) assets held with IATA, a global airlines body. The decision came in two separate orders after Devas' investors filed a case against GOI for breach of bilateral by calling off the deal. 

Antrix-Devas Case: Canada Court and SC verdict

January 2022: The Canadian court uplifted stay on freezing AAI assets held with IATA and amended its own ruling, thereby allowing only 50% of the AI assets lying with IATA to be taken over by Devas' investors.

The Supreme Court in India affirmed the winding up of Devas and upheld the NCLAT order. The apex court stated that it is a case of fraud of a huge magnitude and cannot be brushed under the carpet, as a private lis (suit). 

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