Bengaluru court can hear Antrix-Devas dispute, rules Delhi HC

Bengaluru court can hear Antrix-Devas dispute, rules Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday held that a court in Bengaluru had the jurisdiction to hear the dispute between ISRO's Antrix Corporation and Devas Multimedia which had won an arbitral award of $672 million from an international tribunal.

Devas had moved the high court for implementation of the arbitral award by seeking attachment of bank accounts of Antrix.

However, Antrix had challenged the maintainability of Devas' plea, which was rejected by a single-judge bench of the court last year.

Later, Antrix filed an appeal, which was on Tuesday allowed by a division bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Yogesh Khanna that said the city civil court in Bengaluru, where Antrix had challenged the arbitral award, alone could hear it.

Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce's arbitration body, International Court of Arbitration, in its September 2015 ruling, had asked Antrix to pay damages amounting to $672 million (Rs 4,432 crore) to Devas for "unlawfully" terminating a deal in 2011, citing national security reasons.

The single judge had, on February 28 last year, rejected Antrix's contention that the Delhi High Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear Devas' plea as the contract was executed in Bengaluru and both the companies were also based there.

The single judge had said although the city civil court in Bengaluru may have the territorial and pecuniary jurisdiction, it cannot grant any of the reliefs sought by Antrix in its plea there.

Antrix, in its 2011 plea in Bengaluru, had sought directions to Devas for restraining it from proceeding with the ICC arbitration, contrary to the agreement between them, and from getting it modified by the ICC.

Antrix had contended that till the court in Bengaluru decided whether it had the jurisdiction, the Delhi High Court could not have taken up the plea of Devas.

The single judge had disagreed with Antrix’ contention, saying that the only order that could possibly be passed by the Bengaluru city civil court was that none of the reliefs sought by Antrix in its 2011 plea could be granted.

The judge had said that “waiting indefinitely” for such a decision “would be an exercise in futility”.

He had also directed Antrix to withdraw its plea from the Bengaluru court.

Antrix had filed a plea in November 2015 in the Bengaluru court, challenging the arbitral award.