News Brief

Future Group Approaches To Supreme Court To Challenge Amazon's Win

Bhaswati Guha Majumder

Aug 13, 2021, 03:12 PM | Updated 03:25 PM IST

Future group promoters, including Kishore Biyani, approaches the Supreme Court.
Future group promoters, including Kishore Biyani, approaches the Supreme Court.
  • After the SC judgement that turned out to be a major victory for Amazon last week, now Future group promoters, including Kishore Biyani, have appealed to the SC against a Delhi HC verdict passed in March 2021, directing the EA's order to be enforced.
  • Future group promoters, including Kishore Biyani and many group holding companies, have appealed to the Supreme Court against a Delhi High Court verdict passed in March this year, directing the Emergency Arbitrator's order to be enforced.

    According to a regulatory filing by Future Retail Ltd, Kishore Biyani, Rakesh Biyani and other Biyani family members, as well as the holding companies Future Coupons, Future Corporate Resources and Akar Estate and Finance, have filed an SLP of Special Leave Petition against NV Investment Holdings LLC before the apex court.

    As reported, they have requested that the ruling by the Delhi High Court in execution proceedings be set aside in order to enforce the order issued by the Emergency Arbitrator (EA) on 25 October 2020.

    The EA of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) issued an interim order last year, preventing the Future group from proceeding with its Rs 24,731 crore deal with Reliance Industries to sell its retail and wholesale businesses as well as its logistics and warehousing business.

    The deal between Future and Reliance has been contested by American e-commerce giant Amazon, which owns 49 per cent of one of Future's unlisted companies, Future Coupons Ltd.

    Corporate lawyer Sitesh Mukherjee told BloombergQuint that an SLP could be filed as a legal remedy against orders that are otherwise non-appealable. He explained that "an appeal against any order, even unappealable ones, can be filed in the Supreme Court. This is the reason Future Coupons has challenged Justice Midha's order, which the top court held could not have been appealed to the division bench of the High Court". But according to him, a SLP's prospects of being maintained are extremely low.

    However, Amazon and Future have been involved in legal battles over the deal, with the Seattle-based company accusing the Indian group of breaching pre-existing contracts when it sold its assets to Reliance. Amazon claimed that a 2019 arrangement it had with a unit of Future contained terms banning the retail business from selling them. But Future has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

    The American e-commerce giant first filed a petition in the High Court (single judge) seeking implementation of the EA judgement issued by the SIAC in October last year, preventing Future Retail Ltd from proceeding with the deal. The single-judge judgement was stayed by the High Court division bench because Future Retail Ltd was not a party to the share subscription agreement (SSA) between Amazon and Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL) and the American corporation was not a party to the deal between Reliance and Future Retail Ltd.

    However, the Supreme Court of India passed judgement on 6 August stating that the EA ruling, which barred Future Retail from proceeding with its merger with Reliance Retail, is enforceable under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act.

    The judgement—turned out to be a major victory for Amazon—was handed down by an SC bench of Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai, who had reserved it on 29 July after hearing lawyers, including senior counsel Harish Salve and Gopal Subramanium, who were representing Future Retail Ltd and Amazon, respectively.

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