Supreme Court agrees to Future’s early hearing pleas on Delhi HC order against Reliance Retail merger

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September 04, 2021 5:00 AM

Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, also appearing for the Future Group, said the HC would go ahead with the enforcement of its orders in case the top court did not grant a stay.

On August 6, the Supreme Court had upheld the award of the EA that restrained FRL from going ahead with the transaction with Reliance Retail, a victory for Amazon.On August 6, the Supreme Court had upheld the award of the EA that restrained FRL from going ahead with the transaction with Reliance Retail, a victory for Amazon.

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to an early hearing of the Future Group’s appeals against the Delhi High Court’s single judge’s orders. The HC had restrained Future Group from going ahead with the Rs 24,713-crore merger deal with Reliance Retail, as sought by e-commerce gaint Amazon.

“We will look into the file and give a date,” chief justice NV Ramana told Future Retail’s senior counsel Harish Salve, who said the single judge had given a slew of directions (on February 2 and March 18) that went beyond the order of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre’s emergency arbitrator(EA). The HC order if implemented will have far-reaching consequences, Salve said, asking FRL’s appeal be heard on September 9 as the matter before the HC is listed for September 16.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, also appearing for the Future Group, said the HC would go ahead with the enforcement of its orders in case the top court did not grant a stay. The HC, he said, had ordered the entire assets to be attached and contempt proceedings would be initiated if the Future Group did not get a stay order.

On August 6, the Supreme Court had upheld the award of the EA that restrained FRL from going ahead with the transaction with Reliance Retail, a victory for Amazon. The apex court also revived the single judge’s order which held FRL group chairman Kishore Biyani and others guilty for going ahead with the transaction and had issued a show cause notice to him and other directors of the Future Group as to why they should not be sent to prison, as sought by Amazon.

Besides, the single judge had also directed FRL to approach the regulatory authorities to recall all approvals granted to the Future-Reliance Retail deal and to deposit Rs 20 lakh as the cost for violating the Singapore’s EA’s interim stay order of October 25, 2020. The judge had also asked the assets of Biyani and other directors be attached and had asked them to appear before it.

Challenging the single judge’s February 2 and March 18 orders, the Future group and Biyanis in their appeals before the apex court said the single judge’s directions were not only beyond the EA’s order but also beyond the reliefs sought by Amazon in its enforcement petition.

“The impugned order goes way beyond the reliefs granted under the EAO, in not only providing extensions of the relief of the EA but also castigates the petitioners (Biyanis and the Future group companies) for having flouted the said order when no response was even called for by the Petitioner to explain as to whether the Petitioner had in fact, flouted the said order.”

The spat between Future Group and Amazon has been on since October 25, 2020 when the Singapore’s EA passed an interim order restraining FRL from going ahead with its deal with Reliance Retail. Amazon, which had acquired an indirect minority stake in Future Group in 2019, has alleged that Future’s sale of its retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing businesses to Reliance Retail breached its pre-existing contract, which included a right of the first offer and a non-compete clause.

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