The Supreme Court had, earlier this month, upheld the Singapore International Arbitration Centre’s emergency arbitrator (EA) award restraining Future Retail (FRL) from going ahead with its `24,713-crore merger deal with Reliance Retail.
Expressing displeasure over the Future Group’s failure to comply with its March 18 order, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked it to either get a stay from the Supreme Court or it will initiate compliance proceedings to attach the assets of the Group’s chairman Kishore Biyani and other directors.
The Supreme Court had, earlier this month, upheld the Singapore International Arbitration Centre’s emergency arbitrator (EA) award restraining Future Retail (FRL) from going ahead with its Rs 24,713-crore merger deal with Reliance Retail.
It had also revived Justice JR Midha’s March order that had held FRL group chairman Kishore Biyani and others guilty for going ahead with the deal, and had issued showcause notice to him and other directors as to why they should not be sent to prison, as sought by Amazon.
Besides, the single judge had also directed the FRL to approach regulatory authorities to recall all approvals granted to the Future-Reliance Retail deal and to deposit Rs 20 lakh as cost for violating the EA’s interim stay order of October 25, 2020. The judge had also asked for attaching the assets of Biyani and other directors and had asked them to appear before it.
Since Justice Midha has retired, the matter came up for hearing before Justice Suresh K Kait. Justice Suresh K Kait on Tuesday deferred the hearing till September 16 after senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Future Group, informed the HC that the SC was soon going to hear its appeal against Justice Midha’s order and sought four weeks’ time.
Pursuant to SC order, the Futre Group company — Future Coupons and others — had filed an appeal against the March 18 order before the apex court, saying they were not provided any effective or actual opportunity to file any response to the enforcement petition filed by Amazon to explain as to whether they had complied with or flouted the EA’s order.
Besides, the single judge “commenced final hearing of the enforcement petition on the first day of hearing itself,” FRL stated.
Biyani further said the SJ’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 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 FRL from going ahead with its deal with Reliance Retail.
Amazon, which 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.