Home >Companies >News >India snubs Devas’ offer for settlement of arbitration row

India has given the cold shoulder to an offer by three Mauritius-based investors of Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd to settle their dispute over a cancelled satellite lease deal and the subsequent $1.3 billion international arbitration award they have won.

The investors—Devas (Mauritius) Ltd, Telcom Devas Mauritius Ltd and Devas Employees Mauritius Pvt. Ltd —last month offered an amicable settlement while pursuing enforcement of the arbitration award against India over the cancelled deal with state-owned Antrix Corp.

“Devas investors remain committed to resolving this matter amicably. Unfortunately, our letter has been met with silence from the Indian government," said Matthew D. McGill, a US-based lawyer at law firm Gibson Dunn, lead counsel for a number of shareholders of Devas.

While the government chose not to respond to the offer for amicable settlement, Antrix Corp. is pursuing multiple cases to set aside the arbitration award and to get its former partner, Devas, liquidated. While the Delhi high court is expected to hear Antrix’s plea to set aside the award in July, the National Company Law Tribunal’s Bangalore Bench on 25 May ordered the liquidation of Devas. Its Mauritius-based shareholders are now contesting this.

“Devas has appealed the decision before the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) and the Supreme Court. NCLAT has fixed the matter for hearing next on 8 July. We remain hopeful that India’s judiciary will restore and vindicate our rights," said McGill.

There was no response to emails sent to the Prime Minister’s office, finance ministry, external affairs ministry and the law ministry. An email sent to Antrix Corp. too remained unanswered till press time.

The international arbitration was triggered by the cancellation of the Devas-Antrix satellite capacity leasing deal in 2011 by Antrix citing “force majeure." Devas signed the deal to offer mobile multimedia and broadband wireless services in India.

The Antrix-Devas dispute is one of the investment disputes that have dragged the government into domestic and international courts after the investors won hefty arbitration awards. These prompted New Delhi to terminate all its bilateral investment protection treaties with other countries in 2015 and to renegotiate fresh ones. This has not seen much progress though.

Devas shareholders say they will continue their efforts to enforce the arbitration award. “We look forward to continuing our enforcement efforts, including the bilateral investment treaty award, globally," said McGill.

India has another ongoing legal battle with British oil major Cairn Energy Plc., which is trying to enforce an arbitration award of over $1.2 billion it won last year in an investment dispute.

The government is contesting this award, saying that the arbitral tribunal improperly exercised jurisdiction over a national tax dispute that India never agreed to be subject of arbitration.

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