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Delhi High Court dismissed Future Group’s plea for termination of Amazon arbitration

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed the pleas moved by Future Group companies seeking a direction to the arbitration tribunal, which is adjudicating on Amazon’s objections against their deal with Reliance, to take a decision on their application for the termination of the arbitration proceedings before moving any further.

“Both the petitions are dismissed,” said Justice Amit Bansal, who had reserved the order on the petitions filed by Future Coupons Private Limited (FCPL) and Future Retail Limited (FRL) on January 3.

Amazon and Future have been locked in a bitter legal tussle after the US e-commerce giant dragged Future Group to arbitration at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) in October 2020, arguing that FRL had 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.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for FCPL, had argued before the high court that the three-member arbitration tribunal was acting perversely by not deciding the issue of termination of the ongoing arbitration on a priority basis in view of the anti-trust regulator holding that the approval granted to Amazon for its agreement with FCPL, which formed the basis of the arbitration, was facilitated by fraud.

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

Appearing for FRL, senior advocate Harish Salve had submitted that the tribunal, which is scheduled to hear issues concerning damages from January 5 to January 7, should first take up the termination application and defer the proceedings on other issues.

Senior advocates Gopal Subramanium and Amit Sibal, appearing for Amazon, had argued that there was no denial of equal treatment by the tribunal, which has scheduled the termination application for hearing on January 8, and contended that the tribunal has the discretion to conduct its own proceedings.

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