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SC asks Amazon, Future to urge NCLAT to decide on plea against CCI order

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked Amazon and Future group to request the NCLAT to decide a plea challenging the revocation of sanction to the US e-commerce major for its deal with Future group’s firm by the Competition Commission of India.

The suggestion was mooted by a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana while adjourning to March 9 the hearing on Amazon’s appeal against the January 5 order of the Delhi High Court staying the ongoing arbitration proceedings before an arbitral tribunal over Future Retail’s Rs 24,500-crore merger deal with Reliance Retail.

The bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli, deferred the hearing after brief arguments on being told that the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) is hearing another appeal of Amazon related to the merger deal.

“The present SLP (special leave petition) is in one way connected to the outcome of the order challenged before the NCLAT. We direct parties to request the NCLAT to decide the case. List on March 9,” it ordered.

On February 9, the apex court had issued notices to Future group firms on Amazon’s plea against the January 5 order of the Delhi High Court staying the ongoing arbitration proceedings before an arbitral tribunal over Future Retail’s merger deal with Reliance Retail.

It had sought responses from the Future group firms, Future Coupons Private Ltd (FCPL) and Future Retail Ltd (FRL) and had said that it will hear the matter on February 23 without any adjournment.

The Delhi High Court on January 5 had stayed the Amazon-Future arbitration which is going on before a three-member arbitral tribunal over the latter’s merger deal with Reliance.

Amazon and the Future Group have been locked in a legal tussle after the US e-commerce giant dragged the latter to arbitration at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre in October 2020.

The fresh plea, on which the apex court issued notice, has been filed by the US firm assailing the January 5 order of a division bench of the Delhi High Court staying the Amazon-Future arbitration.

The division bench of the high court had also stayed a single judge’s January 4 order dismissing the Future Group’s two pleas seeking a direction to the arbitration tribunal to decide on its application for terminating the arbitration proceedings before moving further.

The high court had said that there was a prima facie case in favour of FRL and FCPL and if a stay is not granted, it will cause an irreparable loss to them.

Amazon argued that FRL violated their contract by entering into a deal for the sale of its assets to billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail on a slump sale basis for Rs 24,500 crore.

In December last year, the Competition Commission of India suspended its over-two-year-old approval for Amazon’s deal to acquire a 49-per cent stake in FCPL and FRL promoter, and also slapped a penalty of Rs 202 crore on the e-commerce major.

Amazon has been objecting to the sell-off plans, accusing Future Group of breaching its 2019 investment pact. Future Coupons was founded in 2008 and is engaged in the business of marketing and distribution of gift cards, loyalty cards and other reward programmes to corporate customers. Business Today

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