Antrix-Devas deal: What you need to know about the controversial case, why it is in news
In February 2011, the Manmohan Singh-led government cancelled the deal for 'security reasons' after allegations of favouritism were made
On Tuesday, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the Antrix-Devas deal signed during the UPA rule was a fraud against India.
Sitharaman made the remarks at a press conference a day after the Supreme Court upheld the NCLAT, NCLT order to liquidate Devas Multimedia.
A bench comprising Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice V Ramasubramanian on Monday dismissed the appeal filed by Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd that challenged the order to wind up the company.
Let’s take a look back at what is the Antrix-Devas deal and what led to the Supreme Court’s order for Devas Multimedia’s liquidation:
What is the Antrix-Devas deal
The Antrix-Devas deal in 2005 is perhaps one of the most serious crisis ISRO faced in its history.
As per the agreement between Antrix Corporation and Devas Multimedia, Antrix was to provide 70 MHz of the scarce S-Band space segment, which is generally to be used by security forces and government telecom entities, to Devas for its digital multimedia services.
Antrix was to build, launch and operate two satellites GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A and lease 90 per cent of the satellite transponder capacity to Devas for its digital multimedia services.
Devas, as per the agreement, was to pay a total of $300 million over 12 years to Antrix.
Why was it cancelled and the aftermath: A timeline
The Hindu in February 2011 reported about alleged irregularities in the agreement between Antrix and Devas. According to its report, there were discrepancies including financial mismanagement, conflict of interest, non-compliance of rules, and favouritism.
In February 2011, the Manmohan Singh-led government cancelled the deal for “security reasons” after allegations of favouritism were made.
Devas then took Antrix and the government to the International Court for cancelling its contract by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 2011.
After arbitration proceedings began in June 2013, Devas claimed $1.6 billion in damages.
In August 2016, former ISRO chief G Madhavan Nair and some other senior officials were chargesheeted by the CBI after being accused of facilitating "wrongful" gain of Rs 578 crore to Devas.
In September 2017, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) awarded Devas a compensation worth $1.3 billion.
In October 2020, a US court asked Antrix to pay the damages after Devas investors approached it for enforcement of the award.
In November 2020, the Supreme Court stayed the US court order and asked the Delhi High Court to hear arguments from Antrix against the enforcement of the award.
Antrix approached the Bangalore bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in January 2021, as advised by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, to initiate a winding up petition against Devas under Companies Act.
NCLT passed a judgment to wind up Devas on account of fraud during the original deal.
In September 2021, the NCLAT upheld the NCLT judgment, which Devas contested in the Supreme Court. On January 17, 2022, the Supreme Court upheld the NCLAT and NCLT judgments on winding up Devas
With inputs from agencies
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