The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has challenged the order passed by a Canadian court in the case related to Devas Multimedia. The Canadian court had granted the shareholders of Devas the right to seize assets belonging to the AAI in Montreal to enforce a $111-million award given by United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.

Top officials close to AAI told BusinessLine that since the airport authority had nothing to do with the dispute between Devas and Antrix, it was unfair for the Canadian court to pass an order attaching AAI’s assets.

“We believe it is completely unwarranted to drag the AAI in this matter. However, we’ve been given to understand that there are laws under the Canadian judiciary to seize public sector assets of a country in such matters.” The person explained that the AAI has prayed in its appeal in the form of a declaration that it has nothing to do with the said matter. “We’re sure we’d be out of it soon. The matter is up for hearing on Tuesday as per Canadian standard time,” the official said.

Attaching AAI’s assets

Assets worth $30 million have already been seized, including air navigation and aerodrome charges collected by the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) on behalf of the AAI. This has also impacted Air India as it uses IATA platform for ticketing. “Air India has a lot of money stuck there, and this will affect its global distribution systems, too,” the official added.

Big win: Canadian court allows Devas to seize AAI assets in Montreal

On Monday, BusinessLine had reported that a Quebec court ruled that “AAI is the alter ego of India. As a result, an order from this Court, recognising and declaring the Treaty Awards enforceable in Quebec, can be executed on AAI’s assets. AAI is 100 per cent owned by India and controlled by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, as it appears from a report issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation on January 29, 2021”.

The court proceedings in Canada were initiated by Devas shareholders based in Mauritius — CC/Devas (Mauritius) Ltd, Devas Employees Mauritius Private Limited and Telecom Devas Mauritius Limited — against the Republic of India, AAI and the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The shareholders are seeking to enforce the $111-million arbitration award granted to them against India, for terminating its agreement with the satellite company, therefore violating the India-Mauritius Bilateral Investment treaty.

According to Devas shareholders, the Treaty of Awards has been recognised and enforced in multiple jurisdictions including France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the UK. “India has not paid a single cent of what is owed to plaintiffs under the Treaty Awards. To the contrary, India has done everything in its power to evade the Treaty Awards and judgments against it, and plaintiffs have so far received no satisfaction whatsoever,” said Devas shareholders in their application.