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    Order of the Delhi High Court

    1.
    The hearing has been conducted through video conference.
    2.
    Vide order dated 04th November, 2020, the Supreme Court has transferred to this Court the objections filed by the petitioner under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act against the award dated 14th September, 2015 before the City Civil Court, Bangalore with a direction to adjudicate the objections as well as the petitioner’s application for stay of the award. The Supreme Court has further directed that the operation of the impugned award shall remain stayed till the stay application is heard and decided by this Court. The relevant portion of the order dated 04th November, 2020 is reproduced hereunder:-

    "We have heard all the parties before us in the instant interlocutory application for direction filed on behalf of the respondent - Antrix Corporation Limited. The respondent have suffered an award in the sum of $ 562.5 million with interest. The total liability under the Award appears to be in the region of US $ 1.2 billion.

    The matter before us has arisen in the following way:

    The respondent - Antrix Corporation Limited preferred an application under section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (for short, ‘the Act’) before the City Civil Court, Bangalore.

    On the other hand, the SLP petitioner viz., Devas Multimedia Private Limited, filed an application under section 9 of the Act for securing the sum in the Award before the Delhi High Court on 25.09.2015.

    The respondent - Antrix Corporation Limited amended the application under section 9 of the Act pending before the City City Court, Bangalore to restrain the SLP petitioner viz., Devas Multimedia Private Limited, from implementing or enforcing the award. They also filed objections under section 34 of the Act before the City Civil Court, Bangalore. This was done on the basis that the respondent - Antrix Corporation Limited had earlier filed an application on 05.12.2011 under section 9 of the Act before the City Civil Court, Bangalore. It therefore contended that it was entitled to file objections under section 34 of the Act before the City Civil Court, Bangalore because the earlier application had been filed under section 9 before the City Civil Court, Bangalore.

    On 28.02.2017, a learned Single Judge of the Delhi High Court held that the application under section 9 of the Act filed by SLP petitioner before the Delhi High Court was maintainable. However, the Division Bench of the High Court set aside the judgment of the learned Single Judge on 30.05.2018 with the result that the proceedings before the City Civil Court, Bangalore would proceed. Thereafter, the petitioner - Devas Multimedia Private Limited, filed the present Special Leave Petition and on 19.11.2018, this Court stayed the proceedings under section 9 and 34 of the Act filed by the respondent -Antrix Corporation Limited before the City Civil Court, Bangalore. The instant interlocutory application for direction has been filed thereafter.

    Having given our anxious consideration to the matter before us, we find that the issue pending before us in the present SLP is primarily whether the application under section 34 of the Act should be heard by the court at Delhi or the court at Bangalore. In other words, the issue before us is not whether the award can be allowed to be executed without hearing the application under section 34. We consider it highly iniquitous to permit the party to execute an award without the objections under section 34 of the Act to the Award itself being heard. The execution proceedings were filed in various parts of the world including the United States. We understand that the US Court stayed the execution proceedings before it for a period of about one year to enable the parties to settle the matter. We are informed that it has lifted the stay on 17.09.2020 and has confirmed the award dated 14.09.2015 in favour of the petitioner - Devas Multimedia Private Limited for the full amount of $562.5 million together with pre-award and post-award and post-judgment interest.

    We might note at this stage that we suggested to the parties to see if the mediation is possible to settle the dispute between them.

    Mr. K. K. Venugopal, learned Attorney General for India, has specifically denied the possibility of mediation on the ground that the Union of India has discovered a serious fraud in the entire series of transactions leading up to the disputes including the arbitration agreement.

    Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the petitioner, strongly denies the allegations.

    The point is that the mediation does not seem to be possible at this stage.

    Having regard to the overall circumstances of the case, we are of the view that pending decision in the present special leave petition, it would be highly iniquitous to permit the petitioner -Devas Multimedia Private Limited to obtain the fruits of the Award by execution under any law or convention after obtaining a stay from this Court restraining the respondent -Antrix Corporation Limited from pursuing its objections under section 34 of the Act against the Award.

    The application filed by the respondent under Section 34 of the Act stands transferred to the Delhi High Court. The final award dated 14.09.2015 bearing case No. 18051/CYK titled as Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Antrix Corporation Ltd., shall be kept in abeyance till the Delhi High Court decides the application for stay in the Application under Section 34. The application for stay shall be decided on its own merits in accordance with law.

    The petitioner - Devas Multimedia Private Limited will be entitled to seek a deposit of the sum awarded or a part thereof before the Delhi High Court.

    Ordered accordingly."

    3.
    The Registry is directed to furnish the digital copy of the entire record to both the parties. The petitioner shall prepare and submit the convenience compilation of the entire record before this Court. The petitioner shall also remove the objections raised by the Registry.
    4.
    Mr. Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General submits that the City Civil Court, Bangalore had issued the notice of the objections to the respondent on 21st November, 2015. Mr. Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General further submits that the petitioner has filed two fresh applications, one for stay of the impugned award and the other for amendment, which are lying under objection and the petitioner shall remove the objections within the prescribed time to place the applications on record.
    5.
    List for further proceedings on 25 th February, 2021.
    6.
    The order be uploaded on the website of this Court forthwith.
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