SC rejects Antrix plea to move arbitration court against Devas


In a setback to Antrix Corporation, the marketing arm of the the Indian Space Research Organisation, the Supreme Court has barred it from initiating arbitration proceedings against Devas over the S-band spectrum deal.

A bench of Justices H L Dattu and S S Nijjar dismissed Antrix's review plea against the court's May ruling that the firm could not invoke the arbitration agreement and seek proceedings under a different mechanism after Devas had done so under the rules and procedures of the International Chamber of Commerce. "We have gone through the review petition and the connected papers. We see no reason to interfere with the order impugned. The review petition is accordingly dismissed," the bench said in its order on Thursday.

Devas had approached the International Court of Arbitration in June 2011, soon after the government, citing security reasons, scrapped the $300 million deal to allot 70 MHz of scarce S-band spectrum to Devas through transponders on ISRO's yet-to-be launched GSAT-6 and GSAT-61 communication satellites.

Devas appointed its nominee for arbitration and requested Antrix to do the same. Antrix, however, invoked the arbitration agreement in accordance with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, alleging that Devas had invoked the International Chamber of Commerce Rules without letting it exercise its choice.

The controversy over the deal had claimed four of the biggest names in the space industry, including former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair, who were barred from occupying any government position for their alleged role.

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