The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a stay on proceedings before the Delhi High Court in connection to the legal battle between e-commerce giant Amazon and Indian conglomerate Future Group, Bar and Bench reported.
The court also said that the Securities and Exchange Board of India, the Competition Commission of India and the National Companies Law Tribunal should not pass orders in the case for four weeks.
Amazon has challenged Future’s Group’s Rs 24,713-crore deal with Reliance Retail. Under the agreement, Future Group will sell its wholesale, logistics, retail and warehouse businesses to industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s firm.
Amazon argued that according to a separate agreement it signed with a unit of Future Group in 2019, the conglomerate cannot sell its retail assets to a list of companies, including Reliance.
In October 2020, a court in Singapore had put the deal on hold. After that, Amazon urged the Securities and Exchanges Board of India, the stock exchanges and the Competition Commission of India not to let the deal go through.
Meanwhile, Future Retail approached the Delhi High Court, arguing that Amazon should not interfere with the deal.
On March 18, 2021, a single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court had directed the Kishore Biyani-led Future Retail not to take further action on the deal.
Justice JR Midha had also ordered the attachment of properties belonging to Biyani and other executives of the company. He imposed a Rs 20 lakh penalty on Future Group and issued a show-cause notice to its executives.
During Thursday’s hearing, the Supreme Court heard the petitions of Future Retail and Future Coupons Private Limited against the Delhi High Court order, Live Law reported.
Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said that the court must be fair. “In a matter of this magnitude, if hearing takes place without giving opportunity to parties, how can one pass orders attaching property, pay cost, etc,” he added. “What is this!”
Ramana added: “To balance interest of parties we stay all further proceedings before Delhi HC for time being and direct all authorities, including the NCLAT [National Companies Law Tribunal] CCI [Competition Commission of India] and SEBI not to pass any final orders for period of four weeks.”
Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium, who represented Amazon, said his client was not interested in taking harsh action against Future Group.
“Do I have any joy in asking people to go to prison,” he asked. “But shouldn’t order of an arbitrator be obeyed? Can they declare the order to be nullity only because it is adverse to them?”
The Supreme Court will hear the matter after four weeks.
Last month, the Supreme Court had ruled in favour of Amazon in its case against the deal between Future Retail Limited and Reliance Retail.
One of the main questions raised in the case was about the validity and enforceability of the Singapore-based single-judge arbitration panel’s decision to restrain Future Retail Limited from going ahead with its deal with Reliance Retail, under the Indian laws.
Justice RF Nariman had said that the Emergency Arbitrator’s decision could be enforced in India. “Emergency arbitrator’s award holds good under Section 17(1) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act and single judge’s order for such award cannot be appealed under Section 37(2),” he added.