Delhi HC Refuses To Restrain Amazon From Writing To Authorities Over Future-Reliance Deal

  • Delhi High Court has refused to restrain Amazon from writing to authorities like SEBI and CCI over the Future-Reliance deal.
  • Last Month, The Competition Commission Of India (CCI) had approved the Future Group-RIL deal.

The Delhi High Court, on December 21, refused to restrain Amazon from interfering in the Future Group-RIL deal by writing to statutory authorities like SEBI (Stock Exchange Board Of India) and CCI (The Competition Commission Of India).

The order was passed by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Mukta Gupta after an emergency Arbitrator of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) restrained Future Group from taking the deal further with RRVL (Reliance Retail Ventures Limited).

The Delhi High Court held that the statutory authorities are free to make a decision as per Indian laws. The court held that prima facie, the suit filed by Future Retail was maintainable, and the emergency award was valid as well.

The Competition Commission Of India (CCI) on November 20 already approved the deal between Future Retail-RRVL involving the acquisition of retail, wholesale, logistics, and warehousing businesses of Future Group.

The Court said that it was “a matter of trial” to determine whether Amazon’s case outweighed FRL’s claim and for now, it was for the statutory authorities to come to their own right conclusion.

“Consequently, the present application is disposed off, declining the grant of interim injunction as prayed for by FRL, however, the Statutory Authorities/Regulators are directed to decide on the applications/objections under the law,” the court’s order read.

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During the hearing of the case, Advocate Gopal Subramanium, who represented Amazon, said that under the SIAC rules emergency award is binding on the parties subject to a challenge. Until the parties get it set aside, it is like an order of the court, and supposes the order was against me then this order would be with jurisdiction.

Subramanium submitted that all the defendants except Reliance were party to the arbitration and the promoters who were represented before the emergency arbitrator did not question the jurisdiction at all.

Advocate Harish Salve, who appeared for Future Retail, said an arbitrator is one who is entitled to decide the dispute and an emergency arbitrator cannot act as an arbitrator.

He further said Amazon has no right to control any voting in FRL and its representations are false and need to be injuncted. Amazon only held shares in FCL, a shareholder in FRL, and thus had no say in the affairs of FRL, he argued.

The Case So Far:

In August 2020, Future Group had announced its deal with Reliance retail in which the company is intended to sell its retail, wholesale, logistics, and warehousing business to Reliance Retail for Rs 24,713 crore by way of a slump sale.

Later in October, Amazon sent a legal notice to Future Group over its deal with rival Reliance Retail. Amazon had alleged that Future Group is breaching the non-compete contract by entering into a deal with Reliance Retail.

On October 25, Amazon India had moved to SIAC, a Singapore-based single-judge arbitration panel, where it got temporary relief against the deal between Future Group and Reliance Retail.

Subsequently, Amazon wrote to SEBI, Bourses, and Competition Commission of India (CCI), urging them to take into consideration the Singapore arbitrator’s interim decision as it has put the deal on hold.

Later after a week, In response to Amazon appeal to bourses, Future Retail said, “Stock exchanges must not take into cognizance order of a Singapore arbitration court, brought to the exchanges’ attention by Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings, which bars Future Retail from selling company’s assets to Reliance Industries.”

FRL further said that the SIAC order is not permissible under Indian law and is not binding on the company.

with inputs from PTI (Press Trust Of India)

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