SC Stays Proceedings on Amazon’s Plea To Enforce Emergency Arbitrator’s Award
Moneylife Digital Team 09 September 2021
The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday stayed all proceedings before the Delhi High Court (HC) on Amazon’s petition seeking enforcement emergency award passed by Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), which restrained Future Retail Ltd (FRL) from going ahead with its Rs24,731 crore deal with Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd.
 
In its order, a bench headed by chief justice NV Ramana and comprising justice Surya Kant and justice AS Bopanna says, “stay all further proceedings before the Delhi High Court and all other authorities - Competition Commission of India (CCI), National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) - not to pass any final order for four weeks.” 
 
The apex court has scheduled the hearing in the matter after four weeks - awaiting SIAC’s decision on Future’s objection to proceedings by Amazon.
 
Last week, the Supreme Court said it would give a date on Future Retail’s fresh appeal challenging the Delhi High Court order, which asked it to implement its earlier direction restraining the company from going ahead with its Rs24,731 crore deal with Reliance Retail.
 
Seeking an early hearing in this matter, senior counsels Harish Salve and Mukul Rohtagi, representing Future group contended that if the stay is not granted in its favour by the apex court, then the High Court would go ahead with the enforcement of the emergency award.
 
The Delhi High Court is scheduled to hear the matter on 16th September.
 
Last month, the SC had ruled that the emergency award passed under the SIAC rules can be enforced in India under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996. (Read: Big Win for Amazon against Reliance-Future Retail Deal as SC Upholds SIAC Emergency Arbitrator Award)
 
On 17th August, the Delhi HC asked Future Retail to implement the earlier single-judge bench order restraining it from going ahead with the deal. The HC passed the order while e-commerce giant Amazon, seeking enforcement of the award by SIAC, restraining the Future group company from going ahead with its deal with Reliance Retail Ventures.
 
However, Future group filed a new case against Amazon.com at the Supreme Court. In its over 6,000-page filing, the Kishore Biyani group company has contended that if the deal with Reliance Retail fails to go through, it would cause 'unimaginable' damage to Future group, including possible job losses for 35,575 employees, and put at risk roughly Rs280 billion (about $3.81 billion) in bank loans and debentures. (Read: Future Retail Files Fresh Case Against Amazon in SC over $3.4 billion Retail Deal)
 
In February this year, Amazon has reached the apex court after the Delhi High Court stayed implementation of the status quo ordered by a single-judge bench on the Rs24,713-crore deal between Future Retail and Reliance Retail Ventures. A week before that, the HC had turned down a request from Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings to suspend the order for a week.
 
A division bench of chief justice DN Patel and justice Jyoti Singh observed that Future Retail was not a party to an arbitration agreement with Amazon. The court prima facie opined that the ‘group of companies’ doctrine could not be invoked in this matter.
 
After this, Amazon approached the Supreme Court, contending that the division bench at Delhi HC should have waited for a detailed single-judge order while urging the apex court to stay this order.
 
In August 2020, Kishore Biyani and Future Group had entered a Rs25,000 crore agreement with Reliance Retail. As part of the pact, Future group was to sell its retail, wholesale, logistics and warehouse businesses to Reliance Retail Ventures.
 
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