Armed with SC verdict, Centre to fight out cases abroad on cancelled Antrix-Devas deal

Devas says seizure of Air India assets in Canada is a start, seeks over $1.1 bn in damages

PTI

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said the Government will contest the adverse international arbitration awards totaling over $ 1.1 billion filed by a company called Devas.

“The loss will not be borne by the Modi government. It is now the Congress Party’s turn to explain how this was allowed, how the Cabinet was kept in the dark and how it took six years for the fraud to be cancelled. The Congress has no right to speak about crony capitalism,” said the Finance Minister while speaking about the complications resulting from joint venture Devas struck with Antrix, an ISRO company.

A day earlier, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal filed by Devas and upheld orders by Company Law tribunal’s order asking the promoters to wind up the company as the deal with Antrix was steeped in fraud.

But Sitharaman’s ire was directed at the UPA regime for taking six years to cancel the Devas-Antrix deal as well as the ignominy suffered to India’s image after international courts ordered the seizing of government property abroad to implement arbitration awards of over $ 1.1 billion.

Devas and its investors had approached the international arbitration panel after the UPA government had cancelled the Devas-Antrix joint venture over the stink it raised.

Though Sitharaman only spoke of fighting the issue out and gave no details pending inter-Ministerial consultations, the Supreme Court terming the deal as fraud will be of assistance to the Government in its legal battles abroad where Devas is trying to enforce the arbitration awards by seeking the seizure of Indian assets such as those owned by Air India.

The apex court had said on Monday that the commercial relationship between Antrix and Devas were a “product of fraud perpetrated by Devas, every part of the plant that grew out of those seeds, such as the agreement, the disputes, arbitral awards, etc., are all infected with the poison of fraud’’. It also noted how Devas brought in an investment of Rs. 579 crore but “siphoned off” Rs. 488 crore.

Asked what the present government has done so far, Sitharaman said it was pursuing the company law cases through the courts and did not reply when asked if the arbitration courts would listen to the Government since no one has been convicted in the cases filed by the ED and CBI.

However, a statement by Devas shareholders described the seizure of Air India’s assets in Canada as just a start. “Additional actions are forthcoming that will underscore that India is an unsafe place to invest in. Using government agencies to launch bogus criminal investigations against Devas will be seen around the world for what it is — an Indian government willing to debase the country’s reputation by lashing out at its victims rather than paying what it owes them,” it said.

#AntrixDevas #artbitration #Devas #fraud #nirmalasitharaman #Sbandspectrum #SC #spectrum #UPA

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