Preparing to fight Devas legally: Isro chief

Last Updated : 08 October 2015, 18:29 IST

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Isro chairman A S Kiran Kumar has said the organisation was looking at a legal response to the $672 million fine its commercial arm Antrix Corporation has been slapped with by the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) for terminating the contract with Devas MultiMedia on building two satellites with prime S-band spectrum.

When Deccan Herald asked Kumar on the sidelines of an Isro conference on Thursday as to how Isro would take up the issue, he said: “We will be taking the legal recourse. We are preparing a response.” Asked if the legal fight would be taken up in India or at the ICA, Kumar said: “It has to be in India.”

Isro has been forced to take the legal recourse as Antrix has lost the battle with Devas at the ICA. Legal experts have stated that Antrix did not take up the right legal strategies at the right time to win the case. The final award of the International Criminal Court shows that Antrix both failed to nominate an arbitrator to the arbitration tribunal and to have a say in fixing the terms of reference for the tribunal. Rather, it chose to petition the Supreme Court to commence a separate arbitration against Devas, an appeal that failed.
In June 2011, when Devas commenced arbitration seeking specific performance of the agreement or a claim of damages, Antrix refused to participate. On August 19, 2011, when the ICA announced its decision to go ahead with the arbitration, Antrix did not send its nomination, which forced the ICA to nominate, on its own, Justice A S Anand.

Antrix also did not participate in the initial proceedings to discuss terms of reference of the arbitration. Antrix hoped that the Supreme Court would give a favourable ruling on its plea that questioned the jurisdiction of the ICA. Besides, Antrix also raised concerns over the appointment of Michael Pryles as arbitrator.

Former Isro chairman G Madhavan Nair said: “Everything is shrouded in mystery. There could have been various other grounds on which Antrix could have terminated the contract, but why it chose to do so on the grounds that it did has to be answered. The unilateral termination of the contract and Antrix’s handling of the case legally at the international level has to be enquired into.”

Published 08 October 2015, 18:29 IST

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