The Delhi high court on Tuesday sought Amazon’s response on a plea by Future Retail Ltd (FRL) that alleged the US retail giant was interfering in its Rs 24,713-crore deal with Reliance Retail on the basis of an interim order by a Singapore arbitrator.
Justice Mukta Gupta issued summons to Amazon, Future Coupons Ltd and Reliance Retail Ltd on the Future Retail suit and asked them to file their written statements within 30 days. The court also said that the issue of maintainability of the suit, raised by Amazon, would be kept open.
This came after the court heard arguments on behalf of Future Retail, Future Coupons, Reliance as well as Amazon.
Last Saturday, Future Retail announced it had approached the Delhi high court seeking relief against an arbitration order passed by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) with regard to the Rs 24,713-crore deal with Reliance.
The Future Group company had maintained the Singapore arbitrator had passed the interim order against the company on an agreement in which it was not a party.
Last month, the arbitrator barred Future Retail from taking any step to dispose of or encumber its assets or issue any securities to secure any funding from a restricted party.
Senior advocate Harish Salve appearing for Future Retail on Tuesday told the court his client was not challenging the award by the arbitrator as the order was not recognised under Indian laws. Besides, there was no concept of an emergency arbitrator under Indian arbitration rules.
Future Retail, Salve said, had no arbitration agreement with Amazon which can only seek any relief from Future Coupons.
Salve argued Amazon had tried to perpetuate the falsehood that they didn’t know about the deal between Future Retail and Reliance till as late as September. He claimed the Biyanis were negotiating with Reliance as early as June and that Amazon knew about this.
Salve maintained the letters sent by Amazon to the regulatory bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Board of India, the Competition Commission of India as well as the stock exchanges telling them the Singapore award was binding, would hamper the deal with Reliance and would “sound the death knell” for Future Retail.
Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium who appeared for Amazon opposed FRL’s plea saying all the arguments raised here by it were made before the Singapore arbitrator which considered and rejected them. He argued that Future Retail, being a company of the Future group, would be governed by the arbitration agreement between Future Coupon and Amazon and that Future Coupon has a 9.82 per cent stake in Future Retail. He further pointed out that since Amazon holds 49 per cent stake in Future Coupons, it would only have half of the 9.82 per cent stake in its favour.