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Delhi High Court seeks response from Future Retail

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice to Future Retail Ltd (FRL) and Reliance Retail in American e-commerce giant, Amazon’s appeal against order in Future Retail’s suit in relation to its deal with Reliance Retail (Amazon vs Future Retail).

A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh granted time to FRL, Reliance Retail and other respondents to file their response to the appeal.

The appeal is directed against the December 21, 2020 order passed by a single-judge Bench of Justice Mukta Gupta.

Appearing for Amazon, Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium submitted that after the single judge concluded in favour of the validity of the Emergency Award, the suit filed by FRL could not have been held to be maintainable.

Subramanium added that FRL was heard by the Emergency Arbitrator who concluded it was a necessary and proper party to the arbitration proceedings.

In response, Senior Advocate Harish Salve, counsel for FRL, said:

We have a serious objection. At least now Amazon is acknowledging that the matter went against them.”

It was asserted by Senior Advocates Salve and Darius Khambata that not once was the issue of Section 8 Arbitration Act raised before the single judge.

They (Amazon) applied for dismissal of suit and not section 8.“, Khambata said.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, for Reliance Retail, said that he supported FRL in the matter.

After a brief hearing, the Court issued notice in the matter and listed it for further hearing on February 12.

Future Retail had moved the Delhi High Court after an Emergency Arbitrator of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) restrained Future Group from taking any steps in furtherance of the transaction with Reliance Retail.

In the suit, Future Retail had prayed for directions to restrain Amazon from writing to statutory authorities such as the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in an attempt to stall the deal.

Last year, while prima facie opining that the Emergency Award was valid, a Bench of Justice Mukta Gupta had refused to restrain Amazon from interfering in FRL’s deal with Reliance Retail by writing to statutory authorities.

However, at the same time, Justice Mukta Gupta made prima facie finding that Future Retail’s suit was maintainable and that its resolution approving the transaction with Reliance was also valid.

The order also stated that prima facie, the conflation of the three agreements i.e., Future Retial Shareholding Agreement (SHA), Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL) SHA and FCPL Share Subscription Agreement, as was being pleaded by Amazon, granted disproportionate rights to Amazon, which required government approvals under FEMA FDI Rules.

 

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