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Photo: Mint

Amazon is behaving like East India Company: Future Retail to HC

  • The dispute relates to Future’s sale of its retail, wholesale and warehousing assets to Mukesh Ambani’s RIL for 24,713 crore. Amazon, which owns a 5% indirect stake in Future Retail, had contested the deal in the Singapore court.

NEW DELHI : Future Retail Ltd (FRL) on Thursday while arguing before the Delhi High court submitted that Amazon is misrepresenting its legal rights and should not be allowed to wreck its business transaction with Reliance's retail arm. Senior advocate Harish Salve appearing for FRL said that e-commerce giant is behaving like East India company and is trying to destroy competition in the market.

“... Amazon has no investment in FRL. An American company whose pro rata investment is less than 10% are telling me who I should invest in. Reliance wants to buy but I have to ask Big Brother sitting in America?..." Salve said.

“...They think that they have right to bring FRL to a grinding halt. This is why we have competition law so that competition remains. These kinds of clauses destroy competition. Please stop this company from wrecking this transaction," he added.

The high court was hearing FRL’s plea seeking to restrain the US e-commerce company from approaching regulatory bodies such as the Competition Commission of India (CCI) against the retailer’s deal with Reliance Retail Ventures Limited (RRVL), a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL).

The court heard the matter for over 4 hours and adjourned it for further arguments by Amazon on Friday.

Senior advocates Harish Salve and Darius Khambata appeared for FRL and submitted various aspects against the validity of the order by the Singapore court.

Salve added that Amazon is “misrepresenting to the world through an agreement that I can’t restructure my company, save jobs, or protect my creditors' interest worth 1800 crores."

Senior advocate Darius Khambata also argued for FRL going into the details of the validity of the interim order.

“The first thing I want to point out is the legal status of emergency arbitrator is an issue in the suit. The emergency arbitrator’s award is a nullity. The thrust of the act or misrepresentation by amazon in front of SEBI is based on this award. They show the award to SEBI and then they reproduce certain findings. They further explain that the order is binding. They say it’s binding and it will bind you as a regulator... It is their express case before the regulator that the award is binding. It is a complete falsification of the legal position," he said.

Khambata explained the provisions of the act on this and how there is no provision of an emergency arbitrator in Indian law.

The court will now continue hearing the matter on 20 November.

The dispute relates to Future’s sale of its retail, wholesale and warehousing assets to Mukesh Ambani’s RIL for 24,713 crore. Amazon, which owns a 5% indirect stake in Future Retail, had contested the sale in the Singapore court, claiming that its 2019 investment agreement bars the Future from selling its assets to RIL. The Singapore court on 25 October restrained Future from selling its assets to RIL.

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