Antrix-Devas Case – UPSC GS3

Antrix-Devas Deal:
  • Devas entered into a lease contract with ISRO’s private sector arm Antrix Corporation in 2005.
  • According to the deal, ISRO would lease two satellites GSAT-6 and 6A to Devas for 12 years.
  • Devas was supposed to provide multimedia services to cell phones in India using the S-band spectrum, with ISRO leasing 70 MHz of the S-band spectrum.
  • The deal was terminated on February 25, 2011, by the government citing “security reasons“.
What happened after the termination of the deal?
  • After the termination, Devas and its foreign investors approached various international tribunals and courts seeking compensation.
  • This led to arbitration between Antrix and Devas at the International Chambers of Commerce (ICC) and two bilateral investment treaty (BIT) arbitrations.
  • India lost all three disputes.
  • Devas was awarded compensation of $1.2 billion by an International Chamber of Commerce tribunal in 2015.
  • Deutsche Telekom was awarded $101 million-plus interest by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Geneva in 2020.
  • Mauritius investors were awarded $111 million by the UN Commission on International Trade Law tribunal in 2020.
  • The German investors claimed compensation for violation of an India-Germany bilateral investment treaty and the Mauritius investors for an India-Mauritius BIT.
What steps are performed by India?
  • In 2014, the Indian government allocated the case to CBI to look into the 2005 deal.
  • It highlighted the misuse of official positions for their own benefits.
  • The Enforcement Directorate also filed a charge sheet in 2018 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against a former managing director of Antrix and five Devas officials for corruption.
SC decision:
  • SC has upheld the liquidation of Devas.
  • SC has kept the $1.2 billion award in suspension.

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