Delhi High Court stalls Future-Reliance Retail deal

By: |
March 19, 2021 4:15 AM

“Today’s (Thursday’s) Delhi High Court order of single judge has no bearing on the status quo of the case since it is already in the Supreme Court, where the next hearing is expected to be in the last week of April 2021,” a spokesperson for Future group said in a statement.

The court also directed the Future Group to approach regulatory authorities to recall all approvals granted to the Future-Reliance Retail deal.The court also directed the Future Group to approach regulatory authorities to recall all approvals granted to the Future-Reliance Retail deal.

Kishore Biyani and his company Future Retail suffered a setback on Thursday with the single judge of the Delhi High Court, justice JR Midha, holding them guilty for violating the February 2 order, which had directed that status quo be maintained on the Group’s Rs 24,713-crore deal with Reliance Retail. It was an interim order and the judge on Tuesday pronounced the detailed order.

Accordingly the court issued showcause notice to Biyani and other directors of the Future Group asking why they should not be sent to prison, as sought by Amazon, which is opposing the deal and had filed the petition before the court.

The court also directed the Future Group to approach regulatory authorities to recall all approvals granted to the Future-Reliance Retail deal. It also directed Future Group to deposit Rs 20 lakh as cost for violating the Singapore’s Emergency Arbitrator’s interim stay order of October 25, 2020.

Future Group will have to deposit the money in the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund to be used for vaccination of poor people. The judge also asked Biyani and others to file an affidavit giving details of their assets. It also attached the assets of Biyani and other directors and asked them to appear before it on April 28, the next date for hearing in the case.

Though on the face the order is a setback for the Future Group and Biyani and they may appeal against it, it will not make any material impact on the case. This is because the division bench of the HC had on February 8, stayed the single judge’s order and allowed Future Retail to go ahead with seeking clearances for the deal from the regulatory bodies. Subsequently, Amazon had appealed against the division bench’s order before the Supreme Court which on February 22 though allowed the proceedings for seeking clearances to continue before the National Company Law Tribunal’s Mumbai bench, but barred the tribunal from passing a final order till the matter is disposed by it. The SC will next hear the case in the last week of April.

“Today’s (Thursday’s) Delhi High Court order of single judge has no bearing on the status quo of the case since it is already in the Supreme Court, where the next hearing is expected to be in the last week of April 2021,” a spokesperson for Future group said in a statement.

The fight between Future Group and Amazon has been going on since October 25, 2020, when the Singapore’s Emergency Arbitrator passed an interim order restraining Future Group from going ahead with its deal with Reliance Retail. Amazon, which is seeking the enforcement of the award, had approached the court. The single judge bench had on February 2 ruled that EA had rightly passed the order and the same is enforceable in the same manner as that of an arbitrator’s order. It had said that it is of a clear view that the EA rightly proceeded against Future Retail and its award was not a nullity.

The Future Group-Amazon fight over the deal is therefore currently going on in the SC, before different benches of the Delhi HC and NCLT, Mumbai bench.

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