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Amazon back in SC as talks with Future fail

US e-commerce giant Amazon on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that there were talks for settlement between Amazon and Future Group but there has been no headway in the mediation proceedings on the assets of Future Retail Ltd (FRL).

A bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli was informed by senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, who was appearing for Amazon, that even as the top court had ordered to keep hands off, FRL stores “have been taken over” by Reliance.

“Nothing can happen through conciliation, we tried but nothing can happen,” Subramanian told the bench.

He also complained that even when proceedings are pending before different forums the FRL shops “have been taken over by Reliance and not only has Reliance taken over, it has also come in public disclosure”.

“When an order was passed by Emergency Arbitrator, Reliance had made a filing with stock exchange to say that they will enforce their obligations as far as the Future Group is concerned,” Subramanium said.

The senior advocate further submitted that he doesn’t don’t want a message to go that orders of court can be happily flouted.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Future Group, submitted that no assets have been transferred and the stores have been taken over by Reliance. He said that not a single store has been surrendered, Reliance came and overnight removed the boards as law permits.

“We have been saying from day one that Amazon is driving us to our knees, they have done it, we are broke. We have no money to fight it,” he added.

Salve submitted that Future Group has been unable to pay the rent for over two years and the landlords are therefore terminating its leases.

“We had no money to pay them, which is what we have been telling all forums. Reliance signed up with the landlords. We were in no position to pay. Rents have not been paid for two years. We are broke, we have no money,” Salve added. He further said the shop takeover started 15 days ago.

“We have no control if Reliance is acting outside this litigation. Reliance is taking over and we can’t do anything. We haven’t signed anywhere. In fact, Biyani went and protested.”

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appeared for Future Coupons Limited. The apex court said it will hear arguments further on Wednesday.

On March 3, Amazon proposed before the Supreme Court to have an informal dialogue with the Future Group to settle the ongoing dispute between the parties amicably. NV Investment Holdings LLC and FRL are embroiled in a legal fight over FRL’s Rs 24,713 crore merger deal with Reliance Retail.

Amazon has been opposing the Future group’s decision to go ahead with the merger deal of FRL with Reliance Retail. It got the Emergency Award of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) in its favour which restrained Future group from going ahead with the merger deal. New Indian Express

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