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The other company seeking to attach India's assets

By Sudipto Dey
July 12, 2021 09:26 IST
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'Devas will continue to pursue its rights and enforcement actions against India in courts around the world.'

IMAGE: Kindly note that this image has only been posted for representational purposes. Photograph: ANI Photo
 

Devas Multimedia is out to enforce a $1.2 billion international arbitration award arising from a failed contract with Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of ISRO, by approaching US courts to lay claim on Air India's assets abroad.

Matthew D McGill, partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and lead counsel for a number of Devas shareholders, explains what necessitated this latest move in the US courts, via an e-mail interview to Sudipto Dey/Business Standard.

With appeals pending before the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) and the Supreme Court, what was the urgency for moving courts in the US to lay claim on assets of Air India?

It is a common practice after winning such a decisive arbitration award to act on enforcing a decision, which was binding on the Indian government. The only urgency is coming from the Indian government, which has taken outrageous actions to evade payment of the award, and expropriate Devas.

Cairn Energy has made similar claims on assets of Air India in another arbitration matter. What are the chances of Devas Multimedia succeeding in this case?

We are confident that courts operating under the rule of law will enforce the arbitration award to Devas shareholders.

Devas will continue to pursue its rights and enforcement actions against India in courts around the world.

India's contention has been that the establishment of fraud and corruption in the initial contract between Antrix and Devas takes this dispute outside the ambit of the Bilateral Investment Treaty (under which the arbitration award was given). Your take?

Let's be clear: The fraud claims are false, and we are confident they will be summarily dismissed by courts that uphold the rule of law.

Antrix manufactured these claims specifically to evade payment of the award. In fact, Antrix only made these allegations after the US federal court awarded Devas a judgment of almost $1.3 billion. It did not raise these allegations in the arbitration proceedings, or its initial set aside application, or the US confirmation proceedings.

Does the initial proposal by Devas Multimedia to resolve this dispute amicably still stand?

Devas investors remain committed to resolving this matter amicably. Unfortunately, our letter has been met with silence from the Indian government.

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