Delhi High Court sets aside Arbitral Award directing Antrix to pay US$ 562.2 million as damages to Devas Multimedia

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday 29 August set aside a 2015 arbitral award directing ISRO’s Antrix Corporation to pay USD 562.2 million as damages along with interest thereon to Devas Multimedia Private Limited for terminating their agreement in 2011, saying the award suffered from “patent illegalities and fraud”.

Operative portion of the Arbitral Tribunal Award that has been set aside

a. the tribunal has jurisdiction to hear and decide the claims in this arbitration;

b. Antrix is to pay USD 562.5 million to Devas for damages caused by Antrix’s wrongful repudiation of the Devas Agreement;

c. Antrix is to pay simple interest on USD 562.5 million from 25 February 2011 to the date of this award at the rate of three month USD LIBOR + 4%;

d. Antrix is to pay simple interest at the rate of 18% per annum of the amounts in paragraphs 401(b) and (c) from the date of this award to the date of full payment; and

e. each party is to bear its own legal costs of this arbitration, and the parties are to pay, in equal shares, the fees and expenses of the arbitrators and the ICC administrative expenses.

Final Arbitral Tribunal Award, 14 September 2015

Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva of Delhi High Court allowed the petition filed by Antrix under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act seeking setting aside of the arbitral award passed on September 14, 2015 by the Arbitral Tribunal constituted by the International Chamber of Commerce.

The High Court allowed the objections filed by the Petitioner and held that the Impugned award dated 14.09.2015 suffers from patent illegalities and fraud and is in conflict with the Public Policy of India.

Mr. Venkataraman, Additional Solicitor General put forward the case on behalf of the petitioner based upon on the Judgments of the NCLT, NCLAT and the Supreme Court of India to address the issue of fraud played by Devas.

The HC order says:

“the Arbitral Tribunal has incorrectly excluded the evidence pertaining to the pre-contractual negotiations which it could not have and has thus committed a patent illegality in the award.”

“The Arbitral Tribunal has committed patent illegality in the award as findings on some issues are contradicted by the findings on other issues and are also contradicted by the reasoning given to reach the said conclusions.”

“Findings on fraud returned by the Supreme Court by its Judgment dated 17.01.2022 clearly establish that award contravenes the fundamental policy of Indian law being in conflict with the most basic notions of justice and is also contrary to the national economic interest having also violated the “FIPB Policies‟ and the provisions of “FIMA‟ and “PMLA‟ and thus antithetical to the fundamental policy of Indian law.”

“The Supreme Court by its judgment dated 17.01.2022 has held that the very seeds of the commercial relationship between Antrix and Devas were a product of fraud perpetrated by Devas and thus 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 has held that a product of fraud is in conflict with the public policy of any country including India. The basic notions of morality and justice are always in conflict with fraud and that allowing Devas and its shareholders to reap the benefits of their fraudulent action, would send another wrong message namely that by adopting fraudulent means and by bringing into India an investment in a sum of INR 579 crores, the investors can hope to get tens of thousands of crores of rupees, even after siphoning off INR 488 crores.”

Antrix brought it to the notice of the Court that in November 2009, Vijay Anand, the Joint Secretary of the Department of Space, who was also its Chief Vigilance Officer, learned of possible irregularities relating to the Contract and initiated a preliminary, internal review of certain of the allegations inter alia that “the minutes of a 6 January 2009 meeting of a review committee of the Technical Advisory Committee (“TAG”) of the Indian Satellite Coordination Committee (“ICC”) relating to the experimental licence requested by Devas had been altered in a manner that inter alia eliminated certain comments that had been made at the meeting by the representatives of the Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing of the Department of Telecommunications (“WPC”), headed by the Wireless Advisor to the Government of India, from which Devas would have been required to seek its operating licence and frequency allocation.

It was further contended that Providers of terrestrial telecommunications services had been demanding the redeployment of S-band allocated for satellite services. However, the S-BSS frequencies had been designated for space-to-earth broadcasting only and were not authorised for terrestrial transmission, as the WPC representatives observed at the meeting. This meant that the Respondent Devas itself would not be permitted to use the S-BSS frequencies for terrestrial transmission under existing policy, even though this was precisely its objective.

The disclosure of potential irregularities and the information developed by the preliminary internal investigation led to the establishment by the Department of Space of a single man committee, Dr. B. N. Suresh, a former member of the Space Commission.

In his Report on GSAT-6, that was delivered to Dr. K Radhakrishnan, the Secretary of the Department of Space, on 07.06.2010, Dr. Suresh noted that only 10% of the capacity of the transponders to be leased to the Respondent under the Contract would be available for ISRO, which would bring in certain limitations on the availability of spectrum for any essential demands in the future.

Dr. Radhakrishnan directed that the Suresh Report be examined inter alia by the Satellite Communications & Navigation Program Office.

  1. Following the receipt of the Suresh Report, the Department of Space consulted the Ministry of law and justice and the Department-of Telecommunications.
  2. By opinion dated 18.06.2010, the Ministry of Law and Justice stated that Satellites, referred to in the agreement, are no doubt the property of the Central Government and Central Government under its sovereign functions is duty bound to take care of its strategic needs in respect of various forces like BSF, CISF, CRPF, RPF etc. any commercial activity cannot override to sovereign function. The Central Government/ISRO is not duty bound to provide orbit slot to Antrix for commercial activities, especially when there is strategic requirements. When the Central Government/ISRO denies the orbit slot to Antrix in exercise of its sovereign power and function, such event may fall under the category of Force Measure‟ as contemplated in Article 11.

The Ministry of Law and Justice further opined that the Central Government (Department of Space), in exercise of its sovereign power and function, if so desire and feel appropriate, may take a policy decision to the effect that due to the needs of strategic requirements, the Central Govt/ISRO would not be able to provide orbit slot in S band for operating PS1 to the ANTRIX for commercial activities. In that event, ANTRIX in terms of Article 7 (c) read with Article 11, of the agreement may terminate the agreement and inform M/s DEVAS accordingly. However on such termination ANTRIX shall be required to reimburse DEVAS all the Upfront Capacity Reservation Fees and corresponding service taxes received by ANTRIX till that date.”

The Minutes dated 02.07.2010 of the Space Commission inter alia state:
“Focusing on the issue. Chairman stated that ISRO holds, in S band spectrum, 80 MHz in BSS and 70 MHz in MSS. The Antrix-Devas lease agreement on GSAT-6 and 6A would take away 70 MHz of the total S band spectrum available.
Shri Shivshankar Menon, NSA [National Security Advisor] stated that S band spectrum is crucial for several strategic and societal services. The Integrated Space Cell of IDS [Integrated Defence Staff], Ministry of Defence have projected a need for 17.5 MHz in S band for meeting the immediate requirements of Armed Forces, another 40 MHz during the 12th plan period and an additional 50 MHz during the 13th plan period. Armed Forces have also projected the need to build S band satellite capacity … for national security related mobile OMP (COMM) 11 of 2021 Page 41 of 87
communications. There are further demands for S band transponders from internal security agencies viz., BSF, CISF, CRPF, Coast Guard and Police for meeting their secured communication needs. Indian Railways have also projected S band requirements for train-tracking. Commission noted that, in view of these emerging requirements, there is an imminent need to preserve the S band spectrum for vital strategic and societal applications.

It was noted that Space spectrum is a vital national resource and it is of utmost importance to preserve it for emerging national applications for Strategic uses and societal applications. Given the limited availability of S band spectrum, meeting the strategic and societal needs is of higher priority than commercial/ entertainment sectors.

The Space Commission concluded that the Department of Space may take necessary actions and instruct Antrix to annul the Antrix Devas contract. Thereafter an opinion was taken from the Additional Solicitor General.

Consistent with the Additional Solicitor General‟s opinion, and in accordance with Rule 4 of the Transaction of Business Rules of the Government of India, a note was placed before the Cabinet Committee on Security to for decision.

The Cabinet Committee on Security, comprised of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Home Affairs, the Minister of External Affairs and the Minister of Finance and is the highest authority within India for matters relating to internal and external security and defence. As per Antrix it is the appropriate governmental body to take a policy decision regarding use of S-band for strategic needs.

In February 2011, the Cabinet Committee on Security took the decision to deny orbital slot in S-band to Antrix for any commercial activities and to annul the Contract. The report of the Cabinet Committee on Security‟s decision stated as under;

“Taking note of the fact that Government policies with regard to allocation of spectrum have undergone a change in the last few years and there has been an increased demand for allocation of spectrum for national needs, including for the needs of defence, para-military forces, railways and other public utility services as well as for societal needs, and having regard to the needs of the country‟s strategic requirements, the Government will not be able to provide orbit slot in S band to Antrix for commercial activities, including for those which are the subject matter of existing contractual obligations for S band.

In the light of this policy of not providing orbit slot in S Band to Antrix for commercial activities, the Agreement for the lease of space segment capacity on ISRO/Antrix S-Band spacecraft by Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd. entered.

The Court was informed that It is submitted by Antrix that on 27.08.2015, after reconfiguration of the GSAT-6 satellite for military use, the satellite was launched and is now operating in S-band, dedicated to the military. It is further contended that the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Security on the use of the S-band, remains in effect even today and there has been no change in the policy of not providing orbital slot in S-band for commercial use and of reserving S-band for military use.

Devas contended before the Tribunal that Antrix did not have the right to terminate the Contract pursuant to Article 7(c) of the Contract.

Article 7(c) stipulates that Antrix may terminate the Agreement in the event Antrix is unable to obtain the necessary frequency and orbital slot coordination required for operating PS1. As per Devas Antrix was able to and did obtain the necessary frequency and orbital slot coordination required for operating PS1.

The Tribunal has held that Antrix was not required to apply for frequency and orbital slot clearance from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) and thus it could not rely upon the CCS decision alone in order to terminate the agreement pursuant to Article 7(c). T

The Tribunal further held that even if the CCS‟ decision had the effect of annulling any necessary clearance or approval that Antrix had obtained, that would not be sufficient to enliven Article 7(c) as what was required was “inability to obtain‟ a relevant clearance and not “inability to retain‟ a clearance.

Once again a patent illegality has been committed by the Tribunal as this finding is complete contrary to the other finding returned by the Tribunal and as such cannot be accepted. There is no dispute to the material placed by Antrix with regard to the decision of the Department of Space as well as the Cabinet Committee on Security.

The Court has said in its order that the direction of the Cabinet Committee on Security clearly shows that Antrix did not have the orbital slot coordination. There is no counter by Devas to the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Security. This clearly contradicts the reasoning of the Tribunal when it holds that Antrix could not resort to Article 7(c) as it did not cover “inability to retain‟ a clearance.

The High Court order says, after holding that the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Security was an act of a government authority acting in its sovereign capacity and covered under Article 11(b), it holds that Antrix cannot rely upon it because as per the Tribunal it was brought about by Antrix‟s own actions.

The reasoning of the Tribunal is self contradictory and as such also the award suffers from patent illegality on the face of it.

On the finding returned by the Tribunal, the High Court has said that Dr. Radhakrishanan obtained theopinion of the Ministry of Law Justice, he was not acting in his capacity as Chairman of Antrix but was acting in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Space and/or Chairman of ISRO or the Space Commission.

The Tribunal has returned a perverse finding that “Further, since Dr Radhakrishnan (acting in his capacity as Chairman of Antrix) could have prevented the CCS from being asked to annul the agreement, Antrix could have effectively prevented the CCS from making that decision, which means that the CCS‟ decision was not beyond Antrix‟s reasonable control.”

On the one hand the Tribunal holds that Dr. Radhakrishnan was not acting in his capacity as Chairman of Antrix and was acting in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Space and/or Chairman of ISRO or the Space Commission on the other holds that he could have prevented CCS from taking the decision to annul the contract if he had acted in his capacity as Chairman of Antrix.

What the Tribunal is holding is that Dr. Radhakrishanan should have held back sensitive material pertaining to the security of the state from the CCS. As noticed hereinabove the Cabinet Committee on Security, comprised of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Home Affairs, the Minister of External Affairs and the Minister of Finance and is the highest authority within India for matters relating to internal and external security and defence.

Delving more on Article 7 (c) of teh contract, the High Court order says: “As noticed from Article 7(c) of the Contract parties had in their contemplation that Antrix had to obtain the orbital slot coordination and the CCS decided not to grant the orbital slot coordination to Antrix. Tribunal has held that the decision of the CCS in declining the grant of orbital slot to Antrix was a decision of a governmental authority in exercise of its sovereign function and amounted to a Force Majeure event and covered under article 11(b). Thus it could not have held that the alleged breach on the part of Antrix was deliberate.”

Further, the award suffers from patent illegality as the Tribunal had overlooked the provisions of Article 25 of the Contract that stipulates that the Agreement shall not be binding on DEVAS or ANTRIX until and unless ANTRIX receives all the requisite governmental and other regulatory approvals. Including those referred to in this Agreement. Admittedly. Antrix did not receive the orbital slot in S-band, which was a prerequisite for the provision of the Devas services.

Mr. N. Venkataraman, Learned Additional Solicitor General appearing for Antrix restricted his submissions and placed reliance upon the Judgments passed by the National Company Law Tribunal dated 25.05.2021, National Company Law Appellate Tribunal dated 08.09.2021 and the Supreme Court of India dated 17.01.2022. He submitted that this court can take judicial notice of the Judgments. Further, principles of res judicata and issue estopple are also relied upon in support of the said contention.

Antrix sought winding up of Devas under Section 271(c) read with Section 272(1)(e) of the Companies Act, 2013 before the NCLT alleging that Devas was formed for a fraudulent and unlawful purpose and its affairs had been conducted in a fraudulent manner.

NCLT by its judgment dated 25.05.2021 while allowing the petition seeking winding up of Devas specifically noticed the fraudulent activities on the part of Devas.

NCLT held that the incorporation of Devas itself was with fraudulent intention to grab prestigious contract in question from Antrix in connivance and collusion with the then officials of Antrix.

It noticed that Devas was incorporated on 17th December, 2004 and was able to obtain the Contract on 28th January, 2005 in less than 45 days from the date of its inception. NCLT held that it is a matter of fundamental economics, rather common sense that in order to obtain a prestigious, sophisticated contract like the contract in question, the concerned Company should possess adequate experience and infrastructure in the field for a considerable period of time.

NCLT noticed that it was not in dispute that Devas, at the time of entering into the contract, did not possess the minimum experience even to qualify to participate in such a contract, much less obtain it.

NCLT held that it had falsely contended that it has experienced Scientists/Technical experts to get sophisticated technology as were required to provide in terms of Contract in question. NCLT was of the view that same was possible only with direct collusion and connivance with the then officials of Antrix.

NCLT noticed that Union of India came to know about the fraud only in the year 2016, when the CBI investigated the issue and thereafter initiated various proceedings by invoking various provisions of Indian Penal Code, Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Foreign Exchange Management Act etc., against Devas, its officials, and the then officials of Antrix.

NCLT held that there is a long history of fraud and fraudulent activities committed by Devas and its Management before and after its incorporation. It held that Devas brought Rs. 589 crores into India, without doing any worthwhile service/business in India and has siphoned off/diverted that money out of the Country except less than Rs. 100 Cr. under various heads in India.

It also noticed that World Space India Private Ltd, which was alleged to be subsidiary of Devas, as some of its Directors were working in that Company to render required technical service to Devas, was incorporated on 05.06.1998. However, its name was struck off from Registrar of Companies as it had failed to file the balance sheet and Annual returns for the year 2007 – 08.

NCLT further held that even the idea to incorporate Devas was with fraudulent intentions coupled with malafide objects to enter into Agreement with Antrix with no responsibility at all. It held that such a prestigious agreement with Government Owned Company was got signed by a clerk, paying remuneration for the same. It held that the Agreement itself would become void ab-initio and would not create any legal rights, much civil rights to Devas.

It held that the unlawful object of Devas was to bring foreign funds into India and then siphon off the same by diverting those funds to foreign countries, into dubious accounts. Further, it did not have any commercial antecedent to enter into such prestigious.

It has been noticed by the High Court that the Agreement was signed by an “Article Clerk‟ Mr. Gururaj of a “Chartered Accountant‟ who admittedly received a token amount for signing the Agreement on behalf of Devas. Said Mr. Gururaj was not an authorised officer of the Company as required under Section 54 of the Companies Act, 1956 and it is held that the said act is an “illegal‟ and act of “trickery‟.

Mr. Justice M. Venugopal in his National Company Law Appelate Tribunal order on 8 September 2021 held that admittedly, the approval obtained by Devas from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) was only for “ISP Services‟ and the “Department of Telecommunication‟ had only issued an “ISP Licence‟ and therefore the Investments of the overseas shareholders could not be utilised for payment of the UCRF for the proposed “S-Band‟ transponder, in breach of “FIPB‟ approval and the “Department of Telecommunication Licence‟.

Further, it is held that out of Rs. 579 Crores of Foreign Investment amounts of Rs. 76,19,04,563/- share subscription / investment in “Devas‟ America Inc (subsidiary of Devas) and Rs.180,77,58,989/- were laundered out of the country under the garb of “Service Fee‟ towards business support services.

In between 2006 – October 2010, Devas, in the absence of Agreement had paid nearly Rs.40 Crores when the Agreement with the US Subsidiary was entered into only in October 2010. A sum of Rs.256,96,63,544/- was sent out of India into the United States of America amounting to an extent of Rs.230,11,14,734/- (Towards legal fees to American Firms) a total of Rs.487,07,78,278/- was migrated into the US Entities thereby taking the same out of India, etc.

It is held that the money trail had violated “FIPB Policies‟, “FIMA‟ and “PMLA‟. In short, the investments of Rs.579/- Crores were collected by Devas mentioning the Devas Agreement dated 28.01.2005 and not for “Internet Services‟.

An ex-director of Devas on behalf of Devas and DEMPL, both filed appeals before the Supreme Court of India impugning the Judgment of the NCLAT.

Supreme Court of India by its Judgment dated 17 January 2022 dismissed both the appeals.

Supreme Court rejected the contention of Devas that Antrix was estopped from raising the plea of fraud as it has not terminated the agreement on the ground of fraud and had also not set up fraud as a defence before the Arbitral Tribunal.

The Supreme Court on the plea of estoppels held as under:
“But the question is as to whether all the above would lead to an inference of estoppel against Antrix. The fact that the Agreement dated 28.01.2005 was not terminated on the ground of fraud, through the letter dated 25.02.2011, cannot take the appellants anywhere. The earliest First Information Report for the offences under Section 420 read with Section 120B of the IPC was filed by the CBI only on 16.03.2015. The officers of Antrix as well as officials of the Government were also implicated in the FIR for offences under the Prevention of Corruption act, 1988. Therefore, the appellants cannot set up a plea of estoppel on the ground that the termination of the Agreement in the year 2011 was not on the ground of fraud, when the discovery of fraud itself was many years later. For the very same reason, the failure of Antrix to plead fraud in the ICC arbitration proceedings, cannot also operate as estoppel. The arbitral proceedings commenced in the year 2013 and the award itself was passed on 14.09.2015. Antrix cannot be expected to plead fraud in the arbitral proceedings, even before the discovery of fraud.”

The High Court has note in its order With regard to the plea that erroneous and perverse findings of fraud have been returned by the NCLT and NCLAT, the Supreme Court culled out the findings recorded by the NCLT and NCLAT as under:
“On the basis of the pleadings, the documents produced and the submissions made, NCLT recorded the following findings namely, (i) that the incorporation of Devas was with fraudulent intention to grab the prestigious contract in question, in connivance and collusion with the then officials of Antrix; (ii) that it is not in dispute that at the time of entering into the contract, Devas did not have the technology, infrastructure or experience to perform their obligations under the Agreement; (iii) that one of the subscribers to the Memorandum of Association of the company in liquidation was an Auditor by name Shri M. Umesh, whose Article Clerk by name Gururaj was the one signed the Agreement; (iv) that the Executive Director of Antrix who signed the Agreement of behalf of Antrix is one of accused in the criminal cases; (v) that the incorporation of Devas was with fraudulent motive and unlawful object, to bring money into India and divert it by dubious methods; (vi) that even after the termination of the Agreement, Devas was not carrying on any business operations; (vii) that the objective of Devas was hardly to do any business except grabbing Primary Satellite I (PSI) and Primary Satellite II (PSII), and that therefore the requirements of Section 271(c) stand satisfied.

The order of the Appellate Tribunal is in two parts; the first authored by Member (Judicial), and the second authored by Member (Technical). The Member (Judicial) noted, (i) that the company in liquidation failed to establish either the existence of technology or the ownership of intellectual property rights over the stated technology; (ii) that even according to the affidavit of Shri M. G. Chandrashekar, Devas had ample time to develop Devas Technology, meaning thereby that its nonexistence at that time was admitted; (iii) that the company did not have a single approval, permission or licence to render Devas services utilising Devas technology; (iv) that the approval of the Space Commission for building a satellite for Devas, was secured only after finalisation of commercial terms but without apprising the Space Commission of the same; (v) that even in the cabinet note, prepared by the Department of Space on 17 November 2005 a full picture was not recorded; (vi) that there was a contravention of the SATCOM Policy; (vii) that though the original minutes of the meeting required Devas to secure a spectrum licence from Wireless Planning Committee (WPC), after appearing before the apex committee with requisite technical details, the minutes of the meetings were manipulated later as though the company was exempted from the requirement; (viii) that after objections about the manipulations, the original minutes of the meeting came to be restored, on 20.11.2009, but this happened only after the grant of experimental licence on 07.05.2009; (ix) that in any case the experimental licence was to establish Wireless Telegraph Station in India under the India Telegraph Act, 1885, without which experimental trials could not have been conducted; (x) that Devas obtained IPTV licence as part of ISP licence, which has nothing to do with what was offered as DEVAS services; (xi) that the agreement dated 28 January2005 made no reference of IPTV; (xii) that undeniably, Devas services cannot be provided with ISP licences; (xiii) that after bringing an amount of Rs 579 crores into India, a major portion was taken out of India; (xiv) that the only business activity carried on by Devas was to provide ISP services in a particular locality in Bangalore for a few residents and that too for a short duration, which made Devas earn a revenue of Rs. 80,000/; (xv) that the diversion of Rs. 489 crores and Rs. 58 crores for non ISP purposes is violative of ISP licence, which comes squarely within the ambit of Section 271(c); (xvi) that Devas fraudulently approached FIPB through the ISP route to avoid scrutiny by Department of Space; (xvii) that the investors of Devas actually became shareholders and they also had their nominees on the Board of Devas; (xviii) that therefore these persons were also guilty of the conduct of the affairs of Devas in the manner stated; (xix) that the Share Subscription Agreement dated 06.03.2006 entered into with the investors contains a recital as though appropriate licences have been validly issued or assigned to the company, though in fact the only licence namely ISP licence was obtained much later on 2 May 2008 and (xx) that therefore the formation of the company and the conduct of the affairs of the company were fraudulent and the persons concerned therewith were also guilty of fraud.

The Supreme Court further negated the contention on behalf of Devas that it was a lis between two private parties and held that “The space segment in the satellite proposed to be launched by the Government of India, is the property of the Government of India. In fact, the shareholders have secured two awards against the Republic of India under BIT. Therefore, it is neither a lis between two private parties nor a private lis between a private party and a public authority. It is a case of fraud of a huge magnitude which cannot be brushed under the carpet, as a private lis.”

Another contention raised on behalf of Devas that the actual motive behind Antrix seeking the winding up of Devas, is to deprive Devas of the benefits of an unanimous award passed by the ICC Arbitral tribunal presided over by a former Chief Justice of India and the two BIT awards and that such attempts on the part of a corporate entity wholly owned by the Government of India would send a wrong message to international investors, was negated by the Supreme Court by holding as under:
“We do not find any merit in the above submission. If as a matter of fact, fraud as projected by Antrix, stands established, the motive behind the victim of fraud, coming up with a petition for winding up, is of no relevance. If the seeds of 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. A product of fraud is in conflict with the public policy of any country including India. The basic notions of morality and justice are always in conflict with fraud and hence the motive behind the action brought by the victim of fraud can never stand as an impediment. 13.6 We do not know if the action of Antrix in seeking the winding up of Devas may send a wrong message, to the community of investors. But allowing Devas and its shareholders to reap the benefits of their fraudulent action, may nevertheless send another wrong message namely that by adopting fraudulent means and by bringing into India an investment in a sum of INR 579 crores, the investors can hope to get tens of thousands of crores of rupees, even after siphoning off INR 488 crores.”

Earlier on 8 August 2022, Frontiers of Freedom, a not for profit USA based organisation announced that it has petitioned under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act urging the U.S. government to implement economic and visa sanctions against 11 Government of India officials for “serious violations of human rights of U.S. citizen Ramachandran Viswanathan”.

Ramachandran Viswanathan is currently CEO of Omnispace, a company focused on delivering the world’s first satellite and 5G-based ‘one global network.’ He is also the co-founder of Devas Multimedia.

According to Devas facts, the 11 Indian Government authorities and funcionaries named by Frontiers of Freedom are:

  • Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister (May 2019 – Present)
  • Rakesh Sasibhushan, Chairman of Antrix Corporation Limited (June 2016 – Present)
  • Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General (October 2018 – Present)
  • Hemant Gupta, Judge, Supreme Court of India (November 2018 – Present)
  • V. Ramasubramanian, Judge, Supreme Court of India (September 2019 – Present)
  • Judge Chandra Shekhar, Special Judge (PC Act), New Delhi
  • Ashish Pareek, Deputy Superintendent of Police, CBI, New Delhi
  • Sanjay Kumar Mishra, Director of Enforcement, Enforcement Directorate
  • R. Rajesh, Assistant Director, Enforcement Directorate
  • N. Venkatraman, Additional Solicitor General of India
  • A. Sadiq Mohamed Naijnar, Deputy Director of the Enforcement Directorate

In another connected development, US federal court for the Eastern District of Virginia recently allowed foreign investors in Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd to seize more than $87,000 from US – based Intelsat Service and Equipment LLC as part of efforts to recover $1.2 billion in compensation from the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for the cancellation of the 2005 Antrix-Devas agreement and to enforce a $1.2 billion compensation awarded in favor of Devas by the Chamber of international trade on 14 September 2015.


CBI files chargesheet against former Secretary of Space and ED of Antrix Corporation

CBI registers case in the huge Antrix-Devas scam

Antrix-Devas Agreement, national security and CBI

Antrix-Devas case and PCA: BIPA with Mauritius needs to be relooked at

Antrix will be better off ignoring the US Court order for enforcement and payment of $1.2 billion compensation to Devas

Vested interests batting for compensation in the Antrix-Devas case

GoI orders winding up of Devas after a US Court had ordered payment of $1.2 billion compensation

NCLT admits petition for winding up of Devas

Devas case and the nadir of journalism

Deal between ISRO`s commercial arm Antrix and Devas Multimedia signed under the Congress regime was a fraud against the nation: Nirmala Sitharaman

The upright bureaucrat and the Antrix-Devas scam

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