Devas approached ICA for restoration of 2005 agreement for allocation of S-band spectrum
Antrix Corporation Ltd., the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation, has moved the Bangalore City Civil Court seeking a temporary injunction against the arbitration proceedings initiated by Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd. before the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris.
Devas approached the ICA for restoration of its 2005 agreement for allocation of S-band spectrum, which was cancelled by Antrix last year.
VI Additional City Civil and Sessions Court, before which the suit filed by Antrix came up for hearing on Wednesday, after hearing arguments by counsel for Antrix adjourned proceedings till February 25 for hearing objections raised by Devas.
The ICA, an independent body of the ICC, facilitates resolution of disputes over business contracts through a set procedure of arbitration.
Antrix, in its suit, has contended that as per the terms of the agreement, the arbitration should have been initiated in New Delhi as per the provisions of the Indian Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. Quoting the clauses of the 2005 agreement, it argued that the procedure to be followed for arbitration should either be that of the ICC Rules or the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Rules.
Antrix also claimed that Devas had moved ICC “unilaterally” without even notifying it [Antrix], and the ICC, which was “in an unseemly hurry in proceeding with the matter” constituted an Arbitrational Tribunal despite serious objections raised by it [Antrix].
Devas in June 2011 approached the ICC and Antrix came to know about it only when it [Antrix] received communication from ICC, the suit stated. It pointed out that the ICC, after accepting a nomination for arbitrator on behalf of Devas, had gone to the extent of nominating Justice A.S. Anand [a retired Chief Justice of India] as co-arbitrator for Antrix.
Antirx in the suit stated that even though it had moved the Supreme Court in August-September, 2011 for constitution of arbitral tribunal, the ICC in November, 2011 appointed a Chairman for its arbitral tribunal, and asked Antrix to deposit advance cost of $650,000.
Meanwhile, Devas has justified its move to seek arbitration through ICC.
Antrix signed agreement with Devas on January 28, 2005 for lease of space segment capacity on ISRO's two S-band satellites for 12 years from the date of launch of the primary satellites. Antrix on February 25, 2011 cancelled the agreement based on the policy decision taken by the Government of India not to allot S-band for commercial activities, stating that it [S-band] was required for defence and other national purposes.