Devas Multimedia has approached the International Court of Arbitration seeking restoration of its contract with Antrix, ISRO’s commercial arm, reports The Times Of India. Devas filed the arbitration appeal on 29th June at the International Chamber of Commerce, and has urged the tribunal to ask Antrix, the Department of Space and ISRO to deliver the satellite capacity to Devas by 15th October 2012 and to fulfill all its obligations under the agreement signed on January 28, 2005 to enable the firm to start operations of its services. The arbitration is valid for 30 days and can be extended by another 60 days.
In its petition, Devas has sought that the tribunal should deem Antrix’s termination of the contract as improper and invalid and declare that the agreement with Antrix remains “fully extant and binding”. Although Devas has not demanded any specific monetary damages, it has asked the tribunal for compensation for breach of agreement.
The controversial S-Band spectrum deal between ISRO’s commercial arm, Antrix and Deutsche Telekom backed Devas Multimedia, was scrapped by the Indian government’s Cabinet Committee on Security, after the media reported irregularities in the deal, which offered a commercial benefit to Devas, a company founded by former Scientific Secretary at ISRO, MG Chandrasekhar. The deal had provisions for allotting 70 MHz of scarce S-Band spectrum, would have caused a loss of Rs 2,00,000 crore to the government. Under the agreement, Antrix was obliged to lease, build, launch and operate satellites in partnership with Devas, and was also responsible for obtaining all necessary Governmental and Regulatory Approvals relating to orbital slot and frequency clearances, and funding for the satellite to facilitate Devas services.
It remains to be seen how the government and ISRO in particular, will respond to the petition. Interestingly, there is a Force Majeure clause in the agreement (pdf), wherein none of the parties are considered liable for failure or delay, which includes events such as ‘acts of any governmental authority acting in its sovereign capacity’, and ‘changes in law and regulation’.
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