GSAT-6 satellite. Credit: ISRO

BANGALORE, India — The Indian government will challenge a ruling by the International Criminal Court (ICC) directing Antrix Corp. — the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation — to pay $672 million in damages to Deutsche Telekom-funded Devas Multimedia for terminating a satellite-leasing contract four years ago.

“The ICC award against Antrix in the Devas case is shocking,” Antrix said in a Sept. 30 statement. “Antrix, with the support of Department of Space, is preparing to file in court its application for remedy.”

The Antrix-Devas agreement, signed in January 2005, required ISRO to build and launch two S-band communications satellites — GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A — and lease to Devas 90 percent of their transponder capacity for 12 years for a fee of $300 million.

The government nullified the deal in 2011, saying the S-band spectrum in question was needed by India’s defense forces and therefore was unavailable for commercial purpose. The government also criticized what it said was a sweetheart deal that was awarded without competition to Devas.

Devas subsequently filed a complaint with the ICC, seeking $1.6 billion in damages.

The ICC upheld Devas’ argument that the cancellation was arbitrary and illegal.

“Devas Multimedia and its shareholders, including highly regarded international investors, are pleased that the ICC Tribunal unanimously ruled in its favor and found that Antrix is liable for unlawfully terminating the Devas-Antrix Agreement in February 2011,” the company said in a Sept. 29 statement. Devas said the ruling directs Antrix to pay, in addition to the $672 million in damages, interest accruing at 18 percent per year until the sum is fully paid.

Devas said it “is hopeful that Antrix will now live up to its legal obligations and pay the award so that this dispute that arose during the prior government can be brought to a swift close.”

Based in Bangalore, Killugudi S. Jayaraman holds a doctorate in nuclear physics from the University of Maryland and a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He was formerly science editor of the...