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Devas moves US court to seize Antrix assets

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The legal counsel representing Devas and its shareholders has urged the District Court of Washington, to register its $1.29-billion award nationwide, so that Devas and its shareholders can collect the reward through seizure of Antrix’s assets based in the US.

The legal counsel representing Devas Multimedia America INC, Devas Employees Mauritius Private Limited, Telecom devas Mauritius Limited, CC/Devas (Mauritius) Ltd, shareholders of Devas along with an American subsidiary of Devas, Devas Multimedia America Inc (DMAI) also known as intervenors; has petitioned to Judge Thomas Zilly of the District Court for the Western District of Washington to register the court’s previous judgment nationwide permitting the intervenors to attach and execute Antirx’s assets.

Devas, which had commenced arbitration against Antrix in July 2011, was issued an award by the International Chambers of Commerce of $562.5 million for damages against the cancellation of the 2005 contract given to it to build two satellites. On November 4, 2020, the District Court for the Western District of Washington entered a nearly $1.3 billion judgment confirming the award. “Since then Antrix has appealed the judgment but refused to post any bonds or securities,” said Matthew D. McGill of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, representing Devas shareholders.

Delaying proceedings

“Intervenors have extensively briefed Antrix’s willingness to take all means possible to “further delay these proceedings” and “petitioner’s or intervenors’ right to recover on the award.”

For example, after entry of the judgment, Antrix moved at breakneck speed to “wind up” Devas through an Indian government liquidator who immediately fired Devas’ counsel worldwide. Although the court directed the liquidator to hire a new counsel for Devas, the liquidator waited “nearly four months” to do so,” wrote McGill in a petition to Judge Zilly.

Also read: Devas Multimedia to continue to pursue the seizure of Air India’s assets

Arguing that Antrix does not have enough assets in Washington to fulfil the recovery of the $1.3-billion reward, McGill sought for nationwide registration of the court’s November 4, 2020 judgment. Secondly, the intervenors are also seeking an order pursuant to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1610(c), determining that a “reasonable period of time has elapsed” following entry of the court’s judgment.

Also read: Antrix row: Devas shareholders file fresh case holding Tatas liable for damages

“Such an order is necessary because, without that order, Section 1610(c) prohibits attachment of assets of a state-owned entity. Over a year has elapsed since the court entered its judgment, and Antrix is clearly intent on delaying these proceedings and execution indefinitely. Under well-established case law demonstrating that mere months constitute a “reasonable period of time”—let alone, as in this case, over a year—intervenors amply satisfy Section 1610(c)’s waiting period,” wrote McGill.

Award not for intervenors

It may be noted that the District Court granted the award to the company Devas (for which the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal has given a winding down the order in India) and not to the intervenors. However, McGill argued , “this court held that intervenor DMAI could “avail itself of Washington’s legal processes for the collection or enforcement of the judgment.” Id. at 10 (citing RCW 6.17.020 & .030). The Court also held that intervenors DEMPL, Telcom Devas, and CC/Devas are Petitioner Devas’s “successors in interest” and are therefore “entitled to obtain discovery to enforce the execution of the judgment.”

When BusinessLine reached out to Antrix, it said it did not have any comments at the moment.



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