U.S. court orders India’s s space agency ISRO to pay $1.2 billion

A U.S. court has ordered Antrix, the commercial arm of India’s space agency ISRO, to pay $1.2 billion to Devas, a private company with operations in both India and the United States, for a contract they canceled arbitrarily in 2011.

This is a very complicated story going back many years. ISRO’s Antrix and Devas had agreements beginning in 2005 to work together to develop commercial satellites, with Antrix building the satellites and Devas commercializing bandwidth. In 2011 the India government cancelled the contracts unilaterally.

On February 25, 2011, Antrix issued a termination notice to Devas, which among other things stated that the policy decision was of the central government, acting in its sovereign capacity is the event of force majeure, which was an occurrence on February 23, 2011, PTI report said. “The scope and duration of the said decision cannot be anticipated. It is likely to be indefinite. It is not possible for Antrix to take any effective step to resume the obligations under the agreement,” Antrix was quoted as saying.

One of the reasons for the cancellation were accusations that payoffs were occurring between officials at both Antrix and Devas to make the deal happen.

Devas has been fighting in numerous courts for years to get compensation for that cancellation.

ISRO can probably ignore this U.S. court decision, except that if it does it will make it very difficult, if not impossible, for ISRO to do any work in partnership with the U.S., such as in the Artemis program. As soon as they try to do so, Devas will slap a lien on that operation, demanding payment.