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Home >News >India >Future-Reliance Retail merger deal: FRL seeks early hearing of appeal in SC against HC order in Amazon case

Future Retail Ltd (FRL) today sought an early hearing in the Supreme Court on its fresh appeal against the Delhi High Court order, which said it will implement an earlier direction restraining FRL from going ahead with its 24,731 crore merger deal with Reliance Retail.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana said it will look into the file and will give a date of hearing, after senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for FRL, requested for early hearing of the appeal.

“Let me look into the file and I will give a date," CJI Ramana, heading a three-judge bench, told the FRL counsel.

The lawyers said that the High Court would go ahead with the enforcement of Singapore's Emergency Arbitrator (EA) award in case stay is not granted in its favour by the apex court.

They contended that FRL's appeal will be heard on September 9 as the matter before the High Court is listed for hearing on September 16.

On August 17, the High Court said that it would implement the earlier order of the single-judge bench issued on March 18 that restrained FRL from going ahead with the merger. The statement came while hearing the plea of US-based e-commerce giant Amazon, seeking enforcement of the award by EA restraining FRL from going ahead with the deal.

Further, it said that in the absence of any stay from the top court, it has no option but to enforce the order passed by its single judge. The FRL then moved the apex court against the order issued on August 17.

The High Court has ordered attachment of the assets of Future Coupons Private Limited (FCPL), FRL, Kishore Biyani and 10 others promoters on March 18. It had also asked the FRL and its associates to file an affidavit detailing their assets within one month and show cause as to why they should not be detained under civil prison for three months for violating the Singapore EA's order.

The top court, on August 6, had ruled in favour of Amazon and held that the EA award that restrained FRL from going ahead with its merger deal with Reliance Retail, is enforceable in Indian law under Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.

A Bench headed by Justice Rohinton F Nariman had upheld the single-judge Bench order of the Delhi High Court.

Amazon and Future have been locked in a bitter legal tussle after the US e-commerce giant dragged Future Group to arbitration at Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) in October 2020, arguing that FRL had violated their contract by entering into the deal with rival Reliance.

Amazon has a 49 per cent of stake in FCPL, which in turn owns a 9.82 per cent stake in FRL. Its contention is that it has invested 1431 crore in FCPL on the clear understanding that FRL would be the sole vehicle for its retail business and its retail assets would not be alienated without consent and never to a Restricted Person.

FRL, on the other hand, has objected to the enforcement of the EA award saying that it is not an order under Section 17(1) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act and hence not enforceable in India. However, later the top court said the EA award is enforceable in India.

FRL has contended that the 24,731 crore deal was very important to save its 25,000 employees. It had said that as per the deal, Reliance will not only take over FRL's shops but also all its liabilities.

With agency inputs

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