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SC reserves verdict on Amazon’s pleas challenging Future-Reliance deal

Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC and FRL have been locked in a better legal battle over the deal. Amazon had argued that Singapore’s Emergency Arbitrator (EA) award, which restrained FRL from going ahead with the merger, was valid and enforceable.

IANS | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved the judgment on the pleas of e-commerce giant Amazon challenging the Rs 24,713 crore deal for the merger of Future Retail Ltd (FRL) with Reliance Retail.

Senior advocates Harish Salve and Gopal Subramanium, appearing for FRL and Amazon respectively, concluded their submissions in the case today. A bench comprising justices R.F. Nariman and B.R. Gavai said it will close the arguments in the matter. “The judgment is reserved”, said the bench.

Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC and FRL have been locked in a better legal battle over the deal. Amazon had argued that Singapore’s Emergency Arbitrator (EA) award, which restrained FRL from going ahead with the merger, was valid and enforceable. Amazon had moved the apex court challenging the Delhi High Court’s division bench order which gave a green signal to the Reliance-FRL deal.

Salve, representing FRL, contended there was no notion of EA under the Indian law on arbitration and conciliation and also, there was no arbitration agreement to this effect. He emphasized that there was no provision for EA under Indian law.

On February 8, the division bench had stayed the single-judge direction to FRL and various statutory authorities to maintain the status quo on the deal.

Amazon submitted in the top court that Biyanis of Future Group had negotiated with it to enter into certain agreements and emphasized that EA’s award was enforceable. The e-commerce giant insisted FRL is bound by Singapore’s EA award, which restrained it from going ahead with its merger deal with Reliance Retail.

The high court division bench passed an interim direction on FRL’s appeal challenging the February 2 order of the single judge which had ruled in favour of the US firm. The single-judge bench had said the EA’s award was valid and enforceable.

The Future group, in August last year, had reached an agreement to sell its retail, wholesale, logistics, and warehousing units to Reliance.

Subsequently, Amazon took FRL into EA before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) over alleged breach of contract by the Future group and also filed a plea at the high court seeking enforcement of the October 25, 2020, EA award by SIAC restraining FRL from going ahead with the deal with Reliance Retail.