US court refuses to stay suit in $1.2 billion Devas arbitration award

A federal court in the United States has denied a motion to stay proceedings in a case related to the enforcement of a $1.2 billion arbitration award won by Devas Multimedia against Antrix Corp, the Indian space agency’s commercial arm.

Judge Thomas S. Zilly of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington said the motion lacked merit and was intended to further delay proceedings.

The motion to stay the proceedings was filed on July 16 by a counsel representing Devas Multimedia. The counsel was appointed by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) as Devas is under liquidation in the country over fraud charges.

“As the Court has repeatedly emphasized, this matter has been subjected to hindrance and delay, largely on the part of Respondent Antrix Corp Ltd,” Judge Zilly noted in his order.

The liquidator (NCLT) has waited for nearly four months to hire a new counsel despite the court’s direction to do so on March 23, he added.

ET has reviewed a copy of the order.

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Devas Multimedia’s investors – which include Devas Multimedia America Inc, Devas Employees Mauritius Pvt Ltd, Telcom Devas Mauritius Ltd and Devas (Mauritius) Ltd — are fighting to collect the International Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 arbitration award, after India placed Devas into liquidation in February.

These investors have previously told the US court that Antrix, in collusion with India, had turned the company into a “ghost ship” (by placing it in liquidation).

Antrix had also filed a motion in the same court urging it to block attempts by Devas’ investors to track down assets and enforce the $1.2 billion award. It had argued that they were not entitled to post-judgement ‘discovery’ – the formal procedure used by parties in a lawsuit to obtain information before a trial.

Antrix Corp’s move came after Devas
filed a petition in a New York court in June seeking to seize the assets of Air India in the United States, as reparation for India’s failure to honour the $1.2 billion arbitration award.

In July, ET had
reported that a judge in London found “obvious merit” in allowing investors in Devas to join ongoing efforts to enforce the ICC award.

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