Amazon urges SC to halt RIL takeover of FRL stores

Updated on Mar 16, 2022 05:16 AM IST

Appearing before a bench, headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, senior counsel representing the two companies submitted that the deliberations took place at the level of their solicitors on Saturday, but failed to fructify into any positive development.

The bench then asked Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for FRL, if the attempt by Future is to make pending legal proceedings pointless.(Reuters)
The bench then asked Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for FRL, if the attempt by Future is to make pending legal proceedings pointless.(Reuters)
By, New Delhi

Talks between Amazon and the Future Group aimed at resolving their long-running legal battle over the latter’s proposed $3.4 billion sale of retail assets to Reliance Industries have failed, lawyers for the companies informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Appearing before a bench, headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, senior counsel representing the two companies submitted that the deliberations took place at the level of their solicitors on Saturday, but failed to fructify into any positive development.

The bench, which also included justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli, was told by the lawyers that there was no possibility of a settlement between the companies and, therefore, they are willing to resume the arbitration proceedings before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC). At this, the bench agreed to consider sending Amazon and Future back to SIAC, where the proceedings have been delayed due to an order of stay of arbitration proceedings issued by a division bench of Delhi HC on January 5.

Also Read | Amazon slams Reliance takeover of Future stores as 'fraud' in newspaper ads

However, senior counsel Gopal Suramanium and Aspi Chinoy, appearing for Amazon, urged the court to issue an interim order against taking over of Future Retail’s (FRL) stores by the Reliance group during the pendency of the proceedings before SIAC. Reliance is not a party of the proceedings before the apex court.

Subramanium complained that a majority of Future’s retail stores have been taken over by Reliance on March 6 and that there could be nothing left for Amazon at the end of the arbitration proceedings if there is no restraining order in the matter.

“I don’t want a message to go out that orders of this court can be taken so lightly. Names are not important. They should not matter when the majesty of this court is at stake. During the pendency of the discussion, stores have been taken over. They (Future) have severed the lease with old landlords and Reliance has become the new landlord of these stores,” rued the lawyer.

The bench then asked Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for FRL, if the attempt by Future is to make pending legal proceedings pointless. “How can your client sell stores etc. and render the matter infructuous? The feeling which we are getting is that while these proceedings are going on, everything else is being done outside the court,” it told FRL’s lawyers.

Also Read | Decoding the multilayered Amazon-Future-Reliance legal drama

Salve responded that Future has not transferred any store, but Reliance, which had advanced huge sums of money to Future, has taken over the supermarkets.

At this point, the bench asked Subramanium about the kind of interim directives Amazon would wish to press for if the court were to refer the matter to SIAC for a final adjudication. Subramanium replied that Future still has 300 retail stores left, and until the arbitration proceedings are over, they should not be taken over by RIL.

The court asked Subramanium to submit an application seeking the directions Amazon wants.

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