New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday asked Devas Multimedia to let it know if it is willing to waive the interest component on the arbitral award of $672 million, won at an international tribunal in 2015 against ISRO’s Antrix Corporation.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Indu Malhotra took into consideration the interest component against Antrix Corporation, and said it was incrementing with every passing day.
They asked the counsel for Devas to be reasonable on the matter and let it know if it could waive this interest component.
The apex court was hearing an appeal against the Delhi High Court 2018 verdict, ruling that the Bengaluru court had jurisdiction to hear the dispute. The bench observed that the interest meter is running very fast, and it does not want this to crush the government firm.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, representing the ISRO, contended before the court that the government has no money to pay Devas Multimedia. He cited the on-going criminal case against some public servants and others following allegations that fraudulent means were adopted to finalise the contract between the two firms.
The bench asked the AG that there is arbitral award against Antrix, and it does not matter, whether it is taken up for hearing in Delhi or in Bengaluru. The court also added that the government is incurring huge interest every day. As the AG cited laws on arbitration and insisted Bengaluru court has the jurisdiction, the court said: “Why do not you agree to Delhi?”
The bench then asked the AG and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Devas, to let it know by April 15 about their stand on the matter – either Delhi or in Bengaluru – to resolve the dispute.
In 2018, the Delhi High Court, in its verdict, had said that Antrix in 2011 moved a plea in the Bengaluru city civil court to restrain Devas from proceeding with the arbitration. Also, Antrix’s plea wanted to stop the arbitral tribunal set up by Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) from taking this matter further. As this matter was pending, the International Court of Arbitration in its September 2015 award asked Antrix to pay damages amounting to $672 million (Rs 4,432 crore) to Devas for “unlawfully” terminating the deal in 2011 citing national security reasons.