SC adjourns hearing Amazon’s plea against Future Group

Adjournment came after the apex court was informed about an arbitration proceeding between the two companies at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) from Monday
The Supreme Court. (HT archive)
The Supreme Court. (HT archive)
Updated on Jul 08, 2021 09:01 PM IST
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By Abraham Thomas

The Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned until July 20 its hearing on a petition filed by American e-commerce firm Amazon against Kishore Biyani-promoted Future Group after it was informed about an arbitration proceeding between the two companies at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) from Monday.

The SIAC will hear Amazon’s plea over Future Group’s 24,713 crore deal with Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). By an interim emergency award on October 25, SIAC restrained RIL and the Future Group from going ahead with the deal.

As the matter came up for hearing before a 3-judge bench headed by Justice RF Nariman, senior advocate Harish Salve appearing for Future Retail requested the Court to have the matter immediately after the SIAC proceedings that will begin on July 12. The same was consented to by senior advocate Gopal Subramanium appearing for Amazon. The bench directed the mater to be listed on July 20.

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Amazon has challenged a February 8, 2020, order of the Delhi high court ending the status quo imposed on the deal between Future Retail Limited (FRL) and RIL. The status quo was ordered by a single judge giving effect to SIAC’s emergency award. FRL appealed the order before the division bench of the high court and got the status quo vacated.

FRL cited the status quo order and said the proceedings before the National Company Law Tribunal for approving the amalgamation scheme between FRL and RIL was held up.

In its February 8, 2020 order, the high court lifted the status quo. “Statutory authorities should not be restrained from proceeding in accordance with law on Future-Reliance deal.”

Amazon, in its appeal, before the Supreme Court raised a host of legal issues, primary among them being the maintainability of FRL’s petition before the high court division bench. It banked on the SIAC’s emergency award of October 25 and said, “No provision for appeal is provided against an order passed under Section 17(2) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. The respondents (FRL) have not challenged the EA (award) order itself but have preferred to challenge the single judge order enforcing the EA order.”

Amazon said the single judge’s status quo order was passed for the limited purpose of preserving the rights of the parties till the pronouncement of final orders. It added the division bench ought not to have issued its order “hastily”. In August last year, FRL signed an agreement to sell its retail, wholesale, logistics, and warehousing units to Reliance Retail.

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Thursday, October 21, 2021