E-commerce giant Amazon on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that mediation efforts with Future Group to resolve the dispute over Future Retail’s merger with Reliance have failed, Live Law reported.
The Supreme Court on March 3 had given the conglomerates time till March 15 to reach a settlement to end the one-and-a-half-year legal impasse.
The matter involves the enforceability of an Emergency Award by a Singapore tribunal restraining Future Group’s Rs 24,731-crore merger deal with Reliance Retail. Amazon has been opposing the merger and the Emergency Award passed by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre was in its favour.
Amazon has alleged that Future Group violated the contract between the two companies by entering a deal with Reliance.
The Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli has been hearing Amazon’s appeal against a Delhi High Court order that stayed arbitration proceedings over Future Retail’s merger with Reliance.
On Tuesday, senior advocate Gopal Subramanium representing Amazon said that when arbitration proceedings are on, no assets can be taken over, Bar and Bench reported. Arbitration is a process in which a dispute is submitted by consent of parties involved to the arbitrator. The arbitrators then make a binding decision on the dispute.
Subramaniam was referring to Reliance’s take over of 500 Big Bazaar stores owned by Future Retail, Mint reported. They are being rebranded as Smart Bazaar. Reliance also said that it has offered jobs to all Big Bazaar employees.
“But even as this Court ordered to keep hands off, it has been taken over by Reliance,” he said, according to Bar and Bench. “Message should not go that Court orders are being flouted. Now leases have been changed and Reliance has been landlords. If a party knows about the injunction and even then violates it, then he is equally to be proceeded against obstruction of justice.”
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Future Group, said that Future Group has not been able to pay rent for over two years, and therefore their leases have been terminated by their landlords, according to Live Law.
“We’ve been saying from day one that Amazon is driving us to our knees, they have done it, we’re broke,” he said. “We’ve no money to fight it.”
The court noted the fact that Reliance had been taking over the store and thus, allowed Amazon to file an application giving details of relief that it sought.
The matter will be heard on March 16.
Amazon accuses Future Group
Meanwhile, Amazon on Tuesday put out a public notice through newspapers, accusing the Future Group of transferring Future Retail’s assets fraudulently.
“It has now come to light that FRL [Future Retail Limited] and its promoters have been trying to remove the substratum of the dispute by purportedly transferring and alienating FRL’s retail assets comprising the retail stores in favour of the MDA (Reliance) group,” said Amazon in its public notice.
Amazon further said that the Future Group made false submissions before the court that the retail assets would remain vested in Future Retail until the agreement with Reliance is approved by the National Company Law Tribunal.