The Devas Mauritius shareholders’ move to acknowledge the Supreme Court’s abeyance to stop the enforcement of the arbitral awards granted to it may jeopradise their case in international court, according to sources close to Antrix.

Sources close to Antrix told BusinessLine that Devas has acknowledged the abeyance for the first time. Which means that they are aware of the Supreme Court’s judgement. In light of this, they should not be seeking enforcement of the award in international courts- they argued.

However, when contacted, a spokesperson for Devas shareholders’ said, “The decision of the court in India to stay enforcement of Devas’ award against Antrix has no legal effect outside of India. Courts outside of India are aware of the actions of courts in India, including their sham liquidation proceedings, and they nevertheless have recognised that Devas’ arbitral award is valid and should be enforced.”

Devas shareholders have been in an ongoing battle with ISRO’s commercial arm, Antrix, at the Delhi High Court. Antrix wants the Delhi High Court to pass a stay order on the $1.3 billion award that was granted to various parties of Devas shareholders by international arbitration courts.

On Tuesday, according to the Delhi High Court order, Devas’ Mauritius shareholders acknowledged the Supreme Court’s 2020 abeyance order. “ There is already a direction by the Supreme Court keeping the said award in abeyance” said Devas in their arguments. The Supreme Court granted this abeyance to stay enforcement of the various arbitration awards that the satellite company was pursuing against the Indian government. The Supreme Court wanted to put the enforcement of the award on hold while the case against Devas’ allegedly fraudulent activities was pending in Indian courts. However, despite this abeyance, Devas continued to pursue enforcement of these international awards in various international jurisdictions. In the process, Devas has seized Indian government assets across the world. Devas Mauritius shareholders, who have acknowledged the Supreme Court’s abeyance in the Delhi High Court proceedings, have enforced seizure of Airport Authority of India assets in Canada as well as claimed rights over the Paris Apartment of India’s Deputy Chief of Mission. 

Rahul Karmakar, an independent advocate said, “Acknowledging the existence of the Supreme Court order does not mean that they agree with it. However they will have to justify why they are pursuing enforcement of these awards, despite the SC abeyance.”

Karmakar believes that it will be difficult for Devas to argue to international courts, that they should go against the judgement of India’s highest court.

Sources close to Antrix said that Devas can only argue against the judgement in Indian courts and not jurisdictions internationally.

Devas saherholders say that the Indian government wrongfully terminated its contract with Antrix in 2011. Which is why,  Devas Multimedia initiated arbitration against the annulment at the International Chambers of Commerce (ICC).

Two separate arbitrations were also initiated under the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) by Mauritius investors in Devas Multimedia under the India-Mauritius BIT and by Deutsche Telekom a German company. India lost all three disputes and has to pay a total of USD 1.29 billion in damages.

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