Reliance-Future Deal: Delhi High Court Reserves Order On Future’s Plea


The Delhi High Court Friday reserved order on an application by Kishore Biyani led Future Retail Ltd (FRL) seeking to injunct Amazon from interfering in the ₹ 24,713 crore Reliance-Future deal on the basis of an interim order passed by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC). Justice Mukta Gupta heard arguments for five days and asked the parties to give written submissions, if any, by November 23. The Future Group and Amazon have been locked in a battle after the US-based company took FRL into an emergency arbitration over an alleged breach of contract.

The SIAC on October 25 had passed an interim order in favour of Amazon barring FRL from taking any step to dispose of or encumber its assets or issuing any securities to secure any funding from a restricted party. Subsequently, Amazon wrote to market regulator SEBI, stock exchanges, and Competition Commission of India (CCI), urging them to take into consideration the Singapore arbitrator”s interim decision as it is a binding order, FRL had told the high court.

FRL has also sought an ad-interim injunction against Amazon from writing to SEBI, CCI, and other authorities to consider the emergency arbitrator’s interim order. Amazon opposed the plea for interim relief saying no case for it is made out. During the hearing, senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, who represented Amazon, said that under the SIAC rules emergency award is binding on the parties subject to a challenge.

Until the parties get it set aside, it is like an order of the court, and suppose the order was against me then this order would be with jurisdiction, he argued. Subramanium submitted that all the defendants except Reliance were party to the arbitration and the promoters who were represented before the emergency arbitrator did not question the jurisdiction at all.

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Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for FRL, said an arbitrator is one who is entitled to decide the dispute and an emergency arbitrator cannot act as an arbitrator. “Emergency arbitrator thus cannot be an Arbitrator under the Act,” he contended. He added that Amazon has an agreement with Future Coupons Ltd (FCL) and it then says controllers are common. “The obligation of the promoter to Amazon cannot be attributed to the company. I am not bound by the commitment made by the promoter to a third party,” he said.