Big win for Centre in Antrix Devas case, Delhi HC sets aside USD 562 mn arbitral award
The Delhi High Court on Monday set aside an arbitral award directing ISRO’s Antrix Corporation to pay damages of USD 562.2 million with interest to Devas for “unlawfully” terminating the controversial deal in 2011, saying the award suffered from “patent illegalities and fraud”, and was in conflict with the public policy of India. Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva allowed the petition filed by Antrix under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act seeking setting aside of the arbitral award passed on September 14, 2005, by the Arbitral Tribunal constituted by the International Chamber of Commerce which had allowed the claim of Devas Multimedia Private Limited.
The High Court referred to a January 17, 2022 judgment of the Supreme Court which held that the very seeds of the commercial relationship between Antrix and Devas were a product of fraud perpetrated by Devas and thus 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 basic notions of morality and justice are always in conflict with fraud and that allowing Devas and its shareholders to reap the benefits of their fraudulent action would send another wrong message namely that by adopting fraudulent means and by bringing into India an investment in a sum of Rs.579 crores, the investors can hope to get tens of thousands of crores of rupees, even after siphoning off Rs.488 crores,” the apex court had noted in its order.
The High Court, in its 87-page judgment, said the objections filed by petitioner Antrix under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act are allowed and it is held that the impugned award of September 14, 2015, suffers from “patent illegalities and fraud and is in conflict with the Public Policy of India” and it is set aside.
Due to controversy on illegalities and corruption charges, ISRO’s Antrix 2011 cancelled spectrum frequency allotment contracts with Devas, a US-registered firm promoted by NRI scientists. CBI has registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Devas filed cases in US and Paris against Antrix claiming huge compensation and winning in that courts. Recently, Devas attached USD 145,000 from the US bank accounts of Antrix.
 Antrix case: Devas seizes USD 145,000 cash in the US – Aug 17, 2022, PGurus.com
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