Saddled with consistently adverse arbitration awards whose value now exceeds US$1.5 billion, the Government of India has resorted to unsavory tactics, notably going on a “war footing” under Prime Minister Modi to evade lawful payment at all costs.
In order to evade its clear responsibilities, the Government of India concocted the idea of going after Devas itself by shutting it down through a “wind up” proceeding. With no notice to Devas, Antrix sought permission to file such a proceeding against Devas in January 2021, which the Government granted over a weekend. Antrix then filed the wind-up application with none other than Prime Minister Modi’s legal right-hand, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor General N. Venkatraman, arguing on behalf of Antrix before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), a specialized companies court. Antrix asked the NCLT to appoint a liquidator over Devas, claiming the Devas Agreement “had been obtained fraudulently and that an immediate wind-up of Devas was the appropriate remedy.”
Once the liquidator was appointed, he immediately fired Devas’s counsel in enforcement proceedings around the world and issued an interim report concluding on the basis of untried allegations that the 2005 Devas Agreement was “initiated by fraud” and Devas was “incorporated with a view to obtain for itself the agreement and to enjoy the fruits of such fraud.” He reached this conclusion by adopting, wholesale, Antrix’s allegations in its wind‑up petition.
Why has the Modi government taken this action? Because the liquidator will have the power to dispose of all of the company’s assets, including the arbitration Award from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).