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  5. 9. Why did Devas pursue...

9. Why did Devas pursue international arbitration?

When Antrix and the Government of India unlawfully expropriated and terminated the Agreement, they violated not only the terms of the contract, but also bilateral investment treaties signed by the Government of India. 

Before invoking arbitration, Devas wrote to the Prime Minister of India, outlining the many achievements of the Antrix-Devas partnership to date which were achieved with the full cooperation and assurances of DOS/ISRO/Antrix officials.  No response was received, leading Devas to assert its rights.

For the violation of the Agreement, Devas invoked its right to arbitration under the Agreement, which authorized initiating arbitration under the rules of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The ICC tribunal concluded in September 2015 that Antrix had unlawfully terminated the Agreement and should pay Devas $562.5 million in damages, plus interest until Devas was paid in full. Antrix has refused to pay, despite losing its attempts to convince French, English and U.S. courts to set aside the ICC award.

For the Government of India’s violation of its bilateral investment treaties, its investors went before international tribunals set forth in those treaties for settlement of disputes.  Three groups of Devas shareholders based in Mauritius – including a group of employees – went before a tribunal seated at The Hague under the Arbitration Rules of the U.N. Commission on International Trade Law (“UNCITRAL”) over violations of the bilateral investment treaty between India and Mauritius.  That UNCITRAL tribunal found in July 2016 that the Government of India had violated the treaty by unlawfully expropriating their investments and failing to provide the investors fair and equal treatment, and owed damages as a result.(1) These damages were later set at a total of approximately US$ 160 million for the investors in that case.  The Government of India has refused to pay, despite losing an effort to set aside the award before a Dutch court.

Another major Devas investor, Deutsche Telekom, took the Government of India before an UNCITRAL tribunal in Geneva for violations of the bilateral investment treaty between Germany and India. That tribunal found in December 2017 that the Government of India breached the fair and equitable treatment provision in its treaty with Germany when it unlawfully terminated the Devas Agreement,(2) and issued a final award of US$132 million plus accrued interest until paid in full.(3)

Devas and its investors followed the letter of the law in pursuing arbitration in this case.  Both the Government of India and Antrix have flouted the rules and tribunals they had vowed to honor under agreements they signed. 

  1. UNCITRAL Award on Jurisdiction and Merits to Mauritian shareholders of Devas, Paragraph 501.
  2. UNCITRAL Interim Award to Deutsche Telekom, Paragraph 424.
  3. W.D. Wash. Deutsche Telekom Petition to Recognize and Confirm Foreign Arbitral Award. April 19, 2021. Paragraph 5.